A How to Script for Tough Talks with Students and Leaders

This post was originally published in January 2011. I dug up this post for a friend and thought it may be helpful to others. I’ve updated it a bit for a repost.

A couple of months ago, even in my own life, I experienced a tough talk with someone who is very dear to me.  I’m sure it was very painful for them to sit down with me and share some difficult insights, and it truly was a humbling experience, but it was much needed in helping me flourish.  I share this with you to encourage you to not shy away from tough talks.  The work that Christ has been doing in me to sanctify me and grow me came out of that tough talk.  I needed a push to keep growing and God used this person to do it.  I am forever thankful that they made time to care about me that much to talk with me, then help me see how valuable I am, and then to help me gain perspective.  They didn’t beat me up with a conversation.  They truly were there to equip me. Read below for what have learned personally and how I use this in the lives of students and leaders:

Today I was reading Read Ephesians 4:12.

11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up
“Equipping” is the translation of a Greek word used in New Testament times for mending nets, setting a bone, and realizing a purpose. It means to “put right”.

As girls ministers (parents, student workers), we have all sorts of conversations with girls and leaders. Sometimes you walk away from a conversation encouraging a girl to pursue God or to be all that God is calling her to be. Sometimes you get to help her with some faith questions. (It’s always fun when they ask about “the nephilim” in Genesis 6.) Then there are the times when you may have to confront an area of immaturity. These are not easy conversations to have. I had to have a couple of those conversations this week. And I was reminded today that I am called to those conversations too. I’m called to equip as if I were a doctor and I saw a broken bone. I would not ignore it. I would not just give pain medicine. I would need to align the bones and set it in a cast so that it mends and grows stronger. Do not be afraid of those conversations where a student may need you to speak into their life regarding various immaturities. And just like a doctor would be careful with the broken bone, we too must take special care with these students we are entering into equipping conversations with.

A long time ago, I had a group of girls that determined whenever I would say “Can we talk for a second”, that this meant they were getting ready to be disciplined. I realized it was true and something they were doing may have triggered my “equipping” mode and I didn’t set up the conversation for maximum influence. There are some things we can do to prepare for a healthy conversation with a student, just like a doctor would prepare for surgery.

1. Set up a time to talk with the girl for a later time. Sometime in the heat of the moment, we may see something that needs to be addressed and we respond right there and then. However, if we’re honest, equipping the student at that moment may not be our initial motivation and oftentimes we miss out on a unique opportunity to truly set up the optimum time to talk with that student.

2. Pray through what it is that you are getting ready to share with the student.

3. Remove the personal hurt feelings out of the conversation. You may have been hurt by the student, but remember they are a teenager. Their prefrontal cortex won’t be fully wired until they are 25. As you address the situation, your feelings expressing hurt may bring guilt and shame on a student that will erase any type of equipping. This is a delicate area which only highlights your need to listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading of what to say and what not to say.

4. Look for ways to build the student up. Your truthful encouraging words can be just like a cast in surrounding the “wound” and supporting the healing. Remember to speak His truth into the situation.

5. Write out a basic framework of where you are wanting to go with the equipping time. Example:

Heather, I’ve been observing this sarcasm in you during our student leader meetings. You are truly a hilarious person, but I wanted to talk with you about what is happening around you with our group when you begin being sarcastic during our meetings.

—share some examples of how unity has been affected.

—ask what she thinks sarcasm is intended to do? Share with her what scripture says about sarcasm.

—talk about ways to turn the sarcasm into encouragement.

—What would happen if her words were used to build people up and not tear them down?

—Share how you have seen God using her, and how working together on this area could really make a difference in the unity of our student ministry.

—Make a plan to eliminate sarcasm from the wednesday night meeting.

—PRAY.

Here are some areas where you may see ways to “equip” or “set right” or “mend” or “help realize a purpose”:

A student appears to have an agenda for wanting to be involved in a leadership component.

A student flakes out on their responsibilities or commitments with the student ministry.

A girl treats her church family one way, and completely disrespects her biological family.

A student hasn’t seen the way they can use their gifts to connect with service or worship.

A student has been saying unkind remarks on other’s instagrams or social media.

A student has been over posting selfies and appears consumed with what others think about them online.

What are some other ways you have seen reason to step in and equip?

How does this added understanding of the word “equip” help you in your role as a volunteer, mom, or girls minister?

When He prompts your heart for a bone-setting, net-mending, or purpose realizing conversation, know that He is not leaving you alone in that talk. After-all, He goes by the name “Immanuel” not just at Christmas time. “God with us”, is with us 365 days a year.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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