Before They Graduate
As a youth pastor, it’s 100% your responsibility to help students in your ministry graduate and be a positive part of society, be able to function outside of mom and dad’s house and be able to do laundry without turning all their “whites” pink. OK, Ok… jokes and fun. The reality is, you have a very small percentage of influence when it comes to graduating seniors. Your role, as a youth pastor, has always been to walk alongside parents and families as they raise their kids to love and know Jesus.
[bctt tweet=”Our role as youth pastors is to walk alongside families as they raise their kids to love Jesus.” username=”ys_scoop”]
There are skills and characteristics that students need to learn and have before they head off on their own. Some of these skills are basic and some will take more time than others. Regardless, God has entrusted their parents and those who have a positive influence in their lives to prepare them for life on their own! Sure, I could have gone straight fruits of the spirit (a little more obvious) but you probably would have seen that coming.
Here are 7 great things for teenagers to learn before they graduate high school:
If you can help a teenager realize that life is not ALL about them… you are winning! This world is full of people who think that if it’s not about “them” then it doesn’t matter. Teaching teenager to care about other people is invaluable. This may only happen because they have seen their parents care about other people… how are you backing up parents in this arena?
6. Work Ethic
Every teenager should have some sort of job before they graduate high school. Getting a real job teaches work ethic and gives them a glimpse into what life after college may be. It may even show them what they don’t want to do so they will make a concerted effort to excel in college and get a great job. What would that look like to encourage and give opportunities to your students to work hard at something?
This does not mean how to send email, text using emoji’s or commenting on an Instagram pic. Having conversations with someone face to face is a life skill that does not get much time today. Technology is creating a world that allows people to believe interpersonal communication isn’t needed. Social Media gives a false sense of community. Taking time to have conversations with students is only going to improve their competency as they continue to mature and grow up. Take the lead and show them what valuing an in-person conversation looks like!
There are responsibilities that should be explained and done on a regular basis before they have to worry about it for themselves. They should understand what it takes to keep a house in order, what things need to be done on certain days (example – garbage day). They should understand that if they don’t hold up their responsibility then other things fall apart. Responsibility is best taught in the home, so encourage parents to give their teenager ownership over aspects of the house. Giving students responsibility within your youth ministry is another great way to teach them what being responsible looks like.
High school graduates need to at least be able to survive on their own. Let’s be honest, they should at least be able to make EasyMac. I mean, there are some things they should just be able to do. They don’t have to get crazy with it, but basic culinary skills can’t hurt, right? Also, it’s your job as a youth pastor to recommend Old Spice to the kid who is avoiding the shower and all forms of proper hygiene on your summer trip. If a high school student graduates with a B.O. problem, I blame his/her youth pastor.
2. Financial Stability
The influence you have with families is crucial. Encourage parents to take an active approach when it comes to family finances. Encourage them to create a budget and figure out how to make it all happen. That is one of the most shocking things I see in college students and young adults is an inability to budget and live within your means. Are there programs you can offer to partner with families to teach personal finance? I am sure ole Dave Ramsey has some tools up his sleeve.
1. Faith is #1
When teenagers leave home, they will be making their own decisions about church and if they spend time in God’s Word. Help them learn the Bible, help them study it, show them what it looks like to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. Trust me, this is the most important thing they could possibly understand as they enter into “real life.” Parents have to understand that what teenagers see modeled and lived out actively is what they will set as their own personal default. The goal is getting teenagers to have the default of valuing their faith and striving to honor God with the decisions they make! #thisiswinning
With all of these things, it takes works and diligence to instill these values and basic life skills into teenagers! As a youth pastor with influence in the families that attend your faith circle, you can encourage, promote and lead in preparing teenagers to be ready for the real world. Be proactive, develop a plan, coach those parents up, pray like crazy!
Kent Bjurstrom is the pastor of student ministries at Northview Church in Carmel, IN. His desire is to see middle school and high school students enter into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ and help them put their faith in motion. Connect with Kent Twitter & Instagram at @PASTORKENTB.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.