Everyone needs a cheerleader in their corner to celebrate life with. Having someone to support and celebrate us is invaluable in developing self-esteem and fulfilling our need to be loved. As youth leaders, we have a profound opportunity to impact students; impact that goes far beyond the Bible lessons we teach and wisdom we impart.
One of the greatest joys of being a youth worker is getting to walk through life with students: teaching them, guiding them through difficulties, helping them grow and learn, and seeing them mature. But by far the best thing we get to do is celebrate life with them. Life can be difficult, but it can also be awesome and it is part of our job to grab moments and live them to the fullest. That is what celebrating life looks like and it is wonderful.
Here are 4 tips to remember in celebrating life with students…
- It starts with a relationship
If this talk of “celebrating life” sounds great but you have no idea where to start, don’t panic, it comes naturally with a relationship. If you are new to your ministry or do not have many relationships with students, celebrating life might not happen right away. It starts with a relationship. The first step might not be pulling out the party hats but rather laying the groundwork for a relationship. Do what it takes to build those meaningful relationships so you can celebrate with and invest in them and their future.
- Seek opportunities for celebration
There is so much life happening for these students while they are “youth group” aged. From the obvious things like birthdays and graduations to the simple things like making the team or passing a really difficult test. There are milestones like drivers licenses, first jobs, and college acceptances. Middle school and high school students are going through such rapid growth that there is always something to celebrate.
The very first line of this post was “Everyone needs a cheerleader in their corner…” and sometimes cheerleaders need to get creative. Have you ever been to a football game where the team is getting crushed but the cheerleaders are still finding things to be peppy about? We need to find those things. Most students aren’t a star athlete, a 4.0 student, or the life of the party, but they still need celebration. Sometimes life is just boring, but you can still make much of it. You can still seek out opportunities for celebration and situations to grab onto and have fun with.
- Be genuine
The thing we forgot to mention about those cheerleaders at a bad football game is they can also be very annoying. If what they are cheering about is so far removed from reality that it makes no sense, it doesn’t come across as celebrating but rather irritating. Yes, students need cheering and they need celebration, but they also need you to be real. If you have a true, genuine relationship with them, you don’t have to fake it.
Sometimes celebrating life with students is just genuinely caring about them and having a good conversation. I don’t want the word “celebrate” to make you think it has to be a party all the time. Again, what we are looking to do is grab moments, whatever moments they may be, and live them to the fullest.
- Sometimes you have to walk in the valleys to experience the mountaintops
Celebrating life with students happens when we earn the right to do so. Like we have discussed, life is not always easy and sometimes mountaintop experiences are few and far between. Often we must walk through valleys in order to get to the mountains. Being there and crying with a student may end up being the gateway to a celebration. The point is this: “celebrating” is not a moment that occurs at a certain time, it’s a process that happens over time.
Student ministry is so much fun and we are privileged to get to experience and celebrate life with students. Find moments, grab them, and live them to the fullest with the students around you! Thank you so much for being a youth worker.
Todd has been in youth ministry for over a decade and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter @TheTodd_Jones, Instagram @Todd_Jones or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com