I’ll explain this pizza at the bottom.
Yesterday I confronted a student because I found out he recently got lessons on how to make joints. I used anger in this situation to sternly demand he not go down that road. I didn’t yell, but I wasn’t easy on him, either. He clearly got the message.
The reason he clearly got the message is that I rarely make an issue out of what would have made me irate in the past. The kids know I care about them and have standards I live by and expect them to keep as well. They know me as a caring youth leader who gently gives them boundaries and loves to catch them off guard with stupid youth pastor humor.
When I get serious, then, they know it’s a big deal. It might be about a confrontation or about a deep spiritual need I see in their lives. When I get serious, they pay attention.
General principles I’m trying to follow:
- If I’m always angry (or highly emotional), I am never really heard or making an impact with my outburst.
- I end every confrontation with “I love you.” It kind of takes the sting out and reminds them I’m on their side. They usually respond with, “I know”.
- When confronting a student, I get right to the point as soon as possible. This communicates confidence, removes their anxiety if they know what’s coming, and gets us to the action steps (resolution – path toward health) much more quickly.
- I don’t beat a dead horse. Confrontation doesn’t have to be a long heated conversation. My conversation about the joint-rolling lesson took place in about 3 minutes in passing. If I find out he is going down that road, we’ll get together again and escalate the message and action steps. However, less can be more. The longer I drive a point home, the more it gets diluted.
So why the pizza? Well, I guess pot does give kids the munchies, but that’s not why it’s there. Somebody told me every post should have a picture. I didn’t want to post a joint on my blog, so I thought I’d put up a picture of my lunch. I wrote this sitting at Costco before going shopping.
Since 1999 Dennis Beckner has been volunteering in the youth ministry at Saddleback Church. Dennis is available for training events, writing projects and speaking engagements. Learn more about Dennis and read more of his work on his blog, www.volunteeryouthministry.com.