For many of us, we’ve been looking forward to this time of year since last year! It’s the time of year where we eat good food, give and get presents, look back on the year in review, and spend time with family.
After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year — unless it’s not. The holidays don’t always bring warm fuzzy feelings for everyone, especially students. Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and not all of them have a great home life.
It’s so important to check in with your students, especially around this time of year. As a child of divorce, I can tell you that despite the fact that I love Christmas — and I mean LOVE — the holidays were (and still are) stressful for me as I try to balance family dynamics.
Here are three ways that you can show a little extra love to your students during the holidays.
Words of Encouragement
Maybe it’s just because words of encouragement is my top love language, but being intentional to let your students know that they are seen, known, loved and doing a good job means so much.
For most kids of divorce, the holidays feel like a game of tug of war. Whether the pressure comes from parents or just from a desire to make all parties involved happy, it’s still a lot for a student to handle.
Take a little bit of extra time to encourage your students. Tell them when you see them doing something well. Let them know that you appreciate them. Be intentional in how you choose to talk to them. You and your youth group might be the most stable thing in their life right now.
Show A Little Extra Grace
During the holidays, some students might be a bit more on edge than usual. It’s possible that they’ll be more quickly angered or annoyed. They might snap back at someone when they normally wouldn’t. They might not fulfill their responsibilities in your group as well as they normally would.
This is especially true for the leaders of your youth group. Chances are they’re trying their best to juggle school, family, friends, and responsibilities at church, and they desperately want to do that well.
So when they’re late for praise band practice or they forget that they’re supposed to lead the Bible study on Thursday night, cut them a little slack. Show some grace, and remind them that they don’t have to be perfect. Remind them that their value comes from Christ and not from their accomplishments.
Remind Them of the Reason We Celebrate
This is probably the best bit of advice I can give you. It’s easy for all of us to get wrapped up in buying presents and planning dinners and seeing all the family. When we get lost in that we forget the whole reason we’re celebrating.
Be faithful to preach the Gospel to your students, especially during the holidays. Even though there are generally fewer Wednesday and Sunday night activities during this time of year, be intentional. Fill their souls so full of the Gospel that it’s nearly impossible for Satan to get a foothold in their lives.
My Sunday School teacher in 10th and 11th grade had a saying that she instilled in us. She said, “Remember, you might be the only ‘Jesus’ someone ever sees.” She didn’t mean that we are Jesus. We all know that’s far from true, but as believers, we are image-bearers of Christ. We are His hands and feet. We carry His love with us.
For some of your students, you might be the only Jesus they see this holiday season. No pressure, but you’re kind of a big deal!
Youth pastor, remember, your students love you. They look up to you, and God has given you a precious task. What an honor it is to minister to these students!