We all know that youth ministry and ministry in general is driven by relationships, but what about those of us who are not anti-social but growing relationally challenged? I will say that early on in my life I felt like I had to be the life of the party and entertain everyone around me, now that I am older I don’t feel the need to do so, but I look at relationships, especially with young people differently.
I grew up an only child, so I am used to having alone time. In fact, the older I get, the more I like to be alone. I like to read, study, you know, all those things many of did not like when were younger. How has my relationship style changed with students and just about everyone else? Here are a few things I am practicing:
- Shorter burst of relational time but more meaningful.
- Say things that matter and skip the fluff.
- Longer periods of quiet and reflection so when I do jump in to the thick of it I am charged and ready for it.
- More texting (short encouragements).
- Less Facebook time (especially chatting)
- More meal time with students.
- Not feeling guilty if I am not always there.
- Letting others step into the spot light.
These are not just tips from a guy who is growing older in his profession, they are nuggets for anyone who thinks they have to be “on” all the time. I don’t think am losing a step in the area of relationships but as choosing my steps more wisely.
Do you struggle in building/maintaining relationships with students? Tell us about it. Have some more tips for the relationally challenged? Share those too.