This was the best question ever posed to me in student ministry. If I am honest, I think the answer is a firm, “No!"
I love my students, I love my church, I love youth group, I want as many kids in the room as possible, and I want them to play ball, and I want them give me the right signals so I know they are with me.
In all the things I just wrote, not one of them has to do with the actual, individual, unique and amazing young person that I get to share life with in and out of the church. And it is this subtle difference that separates the decent youth workers from the incredible ones!
I know most of you, somewhere deep in your soul, long to be an incredible youth worker. Not to be Christian famous, but to do a great job and make an impact for the Kingdom of God. In order to do that, it is actually much easier than you think. It only take two things:
1) BE FASCINATED WITH YOUR STUDENTS! This means seeing each individual student in your ministry, church, and community through the eyes of Christ. To see them as incredible young people with all sorts of joys, passions and dreams. To look past their chaos and exterior, to not use them for your own ego trip, but to see them, love them, and walk with them at their pace as they work out their faith.
2) WORK HARD TO CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT THAT NURTURES THESE STUDENTS AND POINTS THEM TOWARDS JESUS. This seems pretty self explanatory, but I am horrified by the amount of youth workers that do not work hard and do not nurture students, or point them towards Jesus. Many of us half-ass our jobs, we make kids behave in a way that causes us to feel better, and usually simply point kids towards us.
(This came out harsher than I intended, sorry. I just think we need to do better. The very lives of this next generation is at stake. Let’s do student ministry like it is a true calling from God, not an easy pay check!)
Our students are not a generic group, but a grouping of individuals that are each uniquely crafted by God with specific gifts, talents, hopes and dreams. And each individual student deserves to be seen and loved the way God does, and our ministries get to a place for this heavenly desire to be fulfilled here on earth. This happens when you and I take on the mantle as co-laborers of Christ and love our kids right into the kingdom.
But this only happens if we can first answer in the affirmative this challenging questions: “Are you fascinated by your students?”