expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>

Thursday, June 26, 2014

5 Things no one tells you about working with teens

I have been working with teenagers for about 15 years.
I have seen my fair share of...interesting things happen in those years.

Adam and I started working with the youth group at our church the summer we got married.
I was tired of youth leaders coming and going, or using their youth pastor title as a stepping stool to get to the job they really wanted, so I decided that I was all in.
Like, for life.

So here I am. An old, uncool lady still hanging out with teens on a regular basis.

I  have heard a lot, seen a lot, and learned a lot over the years.
I really had no idea what to expect when I was starting out, because I don't think anyone ever really knows how things roll.
Every ministry is different, every teen is different.
But there are a few things that I didn't know when I started out, and here are some of them.

1. They stink. Literally.
No, I'm serious. I don't think I truly understood just how bad teens smell until we started having boys sleepovers at our apartment. whewww...Get a bunch of boys in a small area and look out world.
I have often wondered why a friend would let another friend be in public and smell so bad, but apparently friends do indeed let friends smell bad.
I'm all like...can someone not just say, dude. You must be out of deodorant. Here, use some of mine?! For real. And it's not just boys. You'd be surprised at how smelly girls can be too!
Hand sanitizer, anyone?

2. They don't say thank you a lot.
This is for sure a true statement.
If you are planning to work with teens in exchange for hugs, high fives and letters of appreciation...think again.
It is funny to me how many people will come into The Porch and tell the teens to say thank you when I hand them their snacks, or when they leave.
I do get it, and as a mom I do think that kids should be grateful.
But the thing is, I am not serving to get a thank you at at the end. And to be honest? I'm not even really serving them! I am serving God, and He gives the best kinds of rewards anyways!
So whether they say thank you for the food, or thank you for giving up 2 and a half hours of your day just to be with me, or whether they take their snack and walk out the door. It's all the same to me.
I love them just the same.

3. They think negative attention is better than no attention.
I remember asking if any of our middle school kids had any prayer requests one night, and this 7th grade boy raised his hand. We called on him, and he proceeded to put his hand under his smelly armpit and make farting noises.
Oh. My. Word.
We get it. You want attention, and you will do anything in the world to get it.
Of course you try and not act surprised at anything they do, but it can be a challenge!
The first 10 years of our ministry were mostly dealing with church kids. Sure, there were some who didn't go to church or know much about the Bible, but for the most part we had a large group of kids who understood who Jesus was and had a relationship with Him.
The last five years have been the exact opposite.
I have sat in our youth center and told kids that the earth is young and they literally looked at me and said they had never even heard that to be an option! I have had 13-year-olds tell me that they had never even heard of the 10 commandments. I don't mean that they didn't know what all of them were.
I mean they had never even heard that there was such a thing! Mind blowing.
Working with teens who come from homes where parents couldn't care less what they are doing, and where smoking pot is a totally normal part of their everyday life, is a lot different than what I was used to. I know that they want attention, and I can see that they don't care what kind of attention it is.
The words that come out of their mouths sometimes makes me feel sick to my stomach. Literally.
But I will still give attention, I will just switch things around and give positive attention.
We don't yell at the kids for cursing. We don't tell them we think they are horrible.
We just tell them what we expect and that we love them enough to care about their reputation and their future.

4. They make you love more than you realize you could.
It's so strange the way I feel towards the kids we work with. They don't realize it, but they mean so much to me. I pray for them continuously and I sometimes check up on their Facebook page or instagram just to see how they are doing.
They make you love them and you just can't help it.
I have gone to many all nighters, and waited for hours after for parents to pick their kids up, and somehow it didn't bother me.

I care about these kids. I want the best for them. I want them to succeed and I want to watch them grow. I believe it is an honor to work with them, and I really hope they know that. I feel responsible for them, and their decisions affect me.
Everyone needs someone to have their back.
And that is my goal...to be that person they know they can always count on.

5. They can eventually make the best friends.
I am still friends with many of the kids who were in youth group years ago. They become part of the family and they make amazing friends. We have many memories of missions trips, canoe trips, youth groups, super bowls and a million other things.
I didn't go into youth ministries looking to make friends, but I found out that it definitely happens!
Bryce was a kid in youth group when my parents were leaders. He became one of my dad's closest friends, and someone who was very close to my family as well.
I am so blessed to have some of my very closest friends who used to be kids in my youth group.
I'm still holding out hope that some of the ones who are the most trying now, will someday be my good friends. ha!

There are just a few things that no one tells you about working with teens.
In my opinion, the good far outweigh the bad.
There are many more, but not all of them are appropriate to write about.
I only wish I was joking!

1 comment:

  1. This was so awesome to read. You and Adam are amazing. Keep being used by God in these kids lives!! xoxo


Blog Archive

Blog Design by Caked Designs