Reading: Isaiah 43:1-7
There’s just something about having somebody with you.
As a full-time, local church youthworker, I can remember early in my career tortured struggle over what to say when walking with a family through… whatever. Death. Divorce. Drug problems. The kid that ran away and got picked up by the cops. The list goes on, and every youthworker you meet can add at least one thing that you haven’t encountered yet. We’re not counselors (or at least most of us aren’t). What can you do?
A pastor—name withheld for anonymity/I can’t remember—gave me a great piece of advice that changed how I functioned in those situations. He said, “The thing is, when they look back on this day, they won’t remember a single thing you said. But they’ll remember that you were there.”
Initially I took that simply as relief, focusing on not saying something memorably awful instead of trying to say something perfect. But as time progressed, I realized that more and more my inclination was to say nothing. That eventually became my sweet spot. Arrive. Be with. Listen.
I’ve learned more over my years in youth ministry from listening to families sort through their own pain than I have in any book or class. The family is the central unit of youth ministry, and we have the opportunity to sit at their feet and learn. Take advantage of that.
What is your go-to posture when families struggle? How soon do you reach out? Do you call, text, or email?
Have you ever felt like you completely fouled up a pastoral care opportunity? What happened? Have you forgiven yourself?
How are you growing through those opportunities when they come?
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