Youth Ministry Training: How To Minister To The Overextended Student

In my previous post I shared an excerpt from my book No Teenager Left Behind. We looked at how we can effectively ministry to students who feel they are entitled to everything in this world. Today, we’ll take a look at another excerpt as we seek to discover how to minister to the overextended student:

Some might call her an overachiever.  Others might say she simply has no boundaries.  All I know is I am watching a 16 year old who seems to be  on the verge of burnout.   I am not certain there has been one non- planned out moment in her life.   I am concerned she doesn’t remember what she likes to do for “fun” anymore.  Everything she does is wedged into her schedule…

…A typical week for Becca includes sports practice almost everyday,  plus games several times a week.  Did I mention she is the team captain of both a fall and spring sport?  No joke.   On top of that she worked hard to get voted class President this year.  There was no wishy washy speech full of empty  promises.  She has actually been working hard on behalf of her class for change.  She is a powerhouse in leading the way in fundraisers.  Her class will be the first to take the most awesome senior trip ever.   At the same time she wants everyone in High School to understand the power of volunteering,  so somehow she is leading a campaign that gets her classmates out in the community.  They have worked together on a Christmas toy drive for kids in the hospital,  a community garden,  and a graffiti clean up campaign.  So in case you missed it she now has sports,  volunteering, student council and did I mention she  is on track to be her class Valedictorian? On the “off seasons” for sports she goes out for the winter musical.

What can be frustrating for me is that due to everything she is involved in,  it feels like youth group is at the bottom of the pile.   I think I may have convinced her that the Missions Trip we are taking over Spring Break is a worthwhile investment of her time.  It is only October and she is already talking about what she will be doing next summer and how it will “help her future.”

I wonder many times if it is Jesus that has taken a back seat to all there is to do…

…Then it hit me.  I don’t think it’s that Becca doesn’t love Christ.   I think she is being pushed.  Part of it is that she is incredibly driven to be “successful.”  Another part is that in a world full of a failing economy that we like to call, “The Great Recession,”  her parents just want her to not fail.  They are trying to ensure her future.  At the same time Becca is attempting to escape the fighting that is constant in her own home due to financial stressors.  In everything,  the question for Becca really becomes,  where and how does the Lord fit into it all?  I don’t think she doesn’t want him to be first,  just with all there is to “do”  how does  she make him take this place in reality.  Even when she attempts to fit a quiet time into her day,  she just feels like even that is one more thing on her plate.

What you really want to help Becca know is that Jesus isn’t just one more thing to “get done” in the course of a day.  He really is the one that wants to guide her life.   I know she believes that, however,  I just don’t think she has any idea how to make him the center of everything in a real way.

Understanding what drives Becca and helping her to see the unhealthy patterns in her life is the first key to helping her.  It is then we can encourage her to allow God to direct her steps and be a part of her decisions (and schedule).

What would you tell Becca?