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Generation to Generation: All Stressed Out

Steven: For some reason, this time of year seems to be so busy. Some times of the year like Christmas we expect to be busy and to be constantly on the move, but this period before Easter and close to everyone’s Spring Break always seems to be busy. I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks that my small group numbers have been low, whether it’s a baseball game they’ve committed to, a huge project due tomorrow that they haven’t started until tonight (sounds a lot like me as a junior higher), or they’re just sick. As a leader, I can sometimes get frustrated with my boys when they put other things over small group each week, but I’ve learned that I just have to let it slide. We all get caught up in the busyness of life, and I have to remember that it’s no different with my junior high boys.

One thing I never want to do is let my guys feel like they’re doing something wrong by missing group. Sure, I would love it if they were there every week, but I know that’s not a realistic expectation. Instead, I do my best to encourage them and keep contact with them to give a sense of “bringing the group to them.” If someone is missing, I will text him at the end of our group time and tell him we all missed seeing him there. If nothing else, it lets that guy know I haven’t forgotten about him just because he wasn’t physically in front of me this week. If possible, I’ll try to schedule a time to connect with him before the next group; that way he has a chance to catch me up on things that he didn’t have a chance to on Tuesday when we met with the group.

Busyness is a problem we all struggle with at one time or another, and we just have to remember not to let it detract from our relationship with God. I’m notorious for making myself think I’m too busy during the day to spend intentional time with God, when in reality I can make time. Whether it’s 5 minutes at home or 20 minutes in my car on the way to school, I can make time if I really want it to happen. The new thing I’m trying is spending a quiet time with God before I get started studying or finishing homework for the day. It’s a simple step of faith that I trust God to give me the time to get everything done, but I’m putting Him first.

When students get stressed and need God most, how do you make sure they turn TO God and not AWAY from Him?

Matt: One of my small group guys, who is usually always at group each week, has missed a couple of weeks. So today I sent him a text, and he responded. Here’s the message:

Hey ******, we missed you last night, small group is not the same when you’re not there. Hope you can make it next week. Hope everything is ok let me know if you need anything.

His response:

Hey just letting you know I would have been there last night, but I had a job interview, and two projects, and an essay for school, I was working on those from the time I got home till 10:30 at night, that’s why I wasn’t there. I have a lot of responsibilities. Just know that when I can make it there I will. I just have way too much going on right now, and my mom has me under the gun to do the best I possibly can this year. Love u Matt :)

Today’s teens are more stressed than ever. This student is also very active in sports and that takes 2-3 hours of his day, six days a week. As a student ministry leader we need to recognize when they need a little extra help and encouragement. We also need to remind them not to get too busy for Jesus. I know how easy that is for me, and how disconnected from God that I feel. This is my response to my student:

No problem ******, I know you have a ton of stuff going on. I just wanted you to know you’re missed and that we love you. I’m always here for you so if you need anything let me know okay? Oh and make sure you keep some time open for God, He’ll help you through these stressful times.  Love ya *****!!

I don’t want him to get too disconnected, so I’ll text him during the week, and try and meet him for lunch this week sometime. That keeps him connected to me and to his small group. It’s also important for students to feel loved and wanted, to know that someone noticed that they have missed group, and that they make a difference in your group.

When students get stressed and need God most, how do you make sure they turn TO God and not AWAY from Him?

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dennisbeckner@churchleaders.com'
Dennis Beckner has served in youth ministry leadership for Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA since 1999. Dennis is a contributor and speaker to youth training events, writing projects and other engagements. Contact him at his blog, VolunteerYouthMinistry.com.