Monday, September 12, 2011

Can you encourage teens when you feel like scolding them?


I had a young person sitting across the table from me.

They had just confessed a whopper of a tale to me.

I believed in them and they had failed.  The silence between us was deafening as they waited for my response.  In reality this was as much a test for me as it was for them.  I wanted to be truthful and loving at the same time.

To say, “it’s no big deal.” would be a lie. 

To say, “how could you?” wouldn’t help.

I waited, letting my own emotions subside.

I prayed, asking for God to take control of my mouth.

As I prayed, I was able to think more clearly. 

I knew that what had been done could not be undone.  There was no point in scolding them. 

I knew that this was weighing on their heart or they wouldn’t care what I thought.  There was no point in objecting.

I knew that if I were in their place, I would want my confession to be met with care.

I asked a few clarifying questions to buy time for my true answer.  I knew that this was an opportunity to mentor them through a learning opportunity and I didn’t want to blow it.

Then with one last prayer, I spoke.

What I said was for their ears.  I can’t share it here.  What I can say is this.  I have been honored time and time again for laying aside my emotion, speaking the truth with confidence and offering care in the midst of great turmoil.

Kids mess up.  They need someone that will care about them from prisons to mansions and someone that in the midst of that to tell them how it is.

As a youth worker, be a coach – not a judge.
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