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In youth ministry, volunteers and staff are charged with the task of backing up the role of parents in their students' lives. This requires being an authority in the lives of these kids, but it also requires a good bit of compassion and grace.
Teenagers are kids, and kids make mistakes. While the authority to challenge and confront a student who is making big life mistakes is necessary and shows that you care for their future, grace and patience in dealing with them will draw them to listen to the advice you have for them. Be honest, be truthful, but be compassionate.
A few ideas for showing compassion to teens in the midst of confrontation:
1. Take them out to dinner, and pay the bill
2. Make certain that the parents know about the confrontation, and that they have your permission and support. You are giving your time to help their children, and most often their support will be the greatest success you can have.
3. Open up a confrontation by telling the student that you care for him, and care about his future. Let your care and concern be the reason for the confrontation.
4. Assure the student that you are confronting him because you trust that he is capable of more. Show that you have some faith in his ability to improve.
5. Be firm during the confrontation, and make certain that your point has been heard. When the confrontation is over, and all is (hopefully) resolved, be willing to laugh with the student about something OTHER than the confrontation.
6. Follow up the confrontation by going to see the student compete in an athletic competition, or by offering to spend time doing his favorite activity at another time.