Doug Fields tells youth workers that as youth workers we have earned a place in students’ lives to hold them accountable and live up to expectations. That’s not a direct quote, but expresses the idea of what he shares. I not only agree with that sentiment, I’ve actually put that to good use.
A few years back I was with one of my students and I felt led to ask about his purity. I told him I needed to ask him a personal question. He said okay. I asked, “Do you struggle with porn and masturbation?”
He wasn’t shocked or scared by this question. Instead, a look of relief came across his face as he admitted he had been struggling with it for quite some time. He had been holding this secret in, afraid of being found out and looked down on, or letting me down.
Asking this question opened a line of communication he could not bring himself to open himself, but desperately wanted help dealing with. As his respected youth leader, I have earned a place in his life to ask him difficult questions. If I didn’t get into his life and ask tough questions, our relationship would have stayed shallow and ineffective. As it stands a decade later, while we are not in each other’s lives on a daily basis, there is a level of respect, knowing each other and a close bond because I took Doug Fields’ challenge to ask tough questions of my students.
Since that day, I’ve never shied away from asking difficult questions in appropriate ways at the right time. If we are to impact students from their core, we must get to know them at the core…especially their hidden core. It gets easier once we do this once or twice because of the relief they get from finally being known … and they all want to be known. They just are scared or unequipped to do the sharing without us asking the tough questions.