New Year’s Resolution: Challenge Your Students!

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  (2 Timothy 1:6-7 ESV)

Are you challenging your students?

I think we often shy away from challenging our students because we’re afraid they will stop showing up to youth group or leadership team.  Somewhere in the back of our minds we’ve convinced ourselves that as long as we don’t push our students too far we won’t upset them and push them away into another youth group.

We don’t grow unless we’re pushed.

We have to be stretched outside of our bounds, challenged beyond our abilities and pushed to go beyond ourselves.  Many people don’t like this process; it’s often long, tumultuous, and painful, prompting many people to stay away from it and therefore staying stagnant in their personal lives, spirituality, and careers.  Other people love to grow – they live for it.  Like adrenaline junkies looking for their next fix they go from challenge to challenge looking to grow and expand themselves.

Chances are your students haven’t quite found their sea legs when it comes to personal growth yet.  Either they haven’t found the joy or pain of it, or they’re tired of being challenged at school and aren’t looking to add to that yet.  Many of your students will learn through High School and College whether they enjoy the challenge of growth or not and live their life accordingly.

Growth isn’t an option for a leader.

We have to be pushing ourselves constantly to expand our skills, knowledge, and relationships.  We don’t have the luxury of staying stagnant, because a stagnant leader isn’t a leader for long.

Our students need to learn the necessity of growth now rather than later; they have to know that growth isn’t an option for a leader, no matter the joys and pains of being pushed and stretched as it happens; there’s no better time to start teaching them than now.

This New Year, make a resolution to challenge your leadership team.  Push them, and challenge them to push themselves.

Here’s How:

Talk About Growth

Before you just plunge into the abyss and start pushing your students up to and beyond their limits, talk to them about the leader’s need to grow constantly.  Make it a theme of your meetings, a constant thread of conversation throughout your lessons.  Thread the theme of growth through everything you do, and let your students know that it’s expected of them.  Let them know that you will be pushing their bounds in your teaching and in the activities that you do as a team – that you’ll be doing your part to help them grow.

Resolve To Grow

Your best bet for getting your students on board for continuous growth and challenge is to take on a challenge yourself.  Model your resolve to be constantly growing.  Discuss your progress and struggles with your students at the same time that you encourage them to to grow as well.

Choose Where To Grow

Once you and your students have resolved to grow, it’s time to sit down and choose where you want to grow.  Growth is an intentional act.  Sometimes we don’t get to choose where we grow, because when God grows us He gets to choose the area we need to grow in, but we do choose to grow or stay where we are.  Sit down with your students individually and discuss where they would like to grow.  This is where an evaluation process for your leadership team comes in very handy.  There may be areas where it’s very evident the student needs to grow.  There may also be areas they’d like to grow, such as an interest, spiritual gift, or a God-given strength.

After you’ve figured out where you want to grow, figure out how.  It may be that reading some books in that area may push you where you want to go, maybe its a seminar or conference that you’ll need to attend.  Whatever the goal for growth, have a plan to reach it.  A goal without a plan to reach it is an unattained goal.

Grow

Now do it.  Implement your plan.  Push it forward.  Raise the bar.  Don’t sit idle.  Challenge yourself, challenge your students.  help your students challenge themselves.  You can talk about the need to grow until you lose your voice, but without actually doing it you’re wasting your time.

Support Growth

Don’t just talk about the need to grow, come up with a plan and implement it; support your student’s growth by following up and being active in their plan.  Stay involved.  Add your students growth plans as a permanent fixture in your prayers.  Make it a constant topic in your mentoring sessions and work their challenges into your lessons, even going so far as to building some of your lessons around them.  Growth is hard, so be a support structure for your students, rather than someone who gets them all excited about the challenge and then sits back and watches.

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About Matt Gooch

Christ Follower, Husband to Brandy, and Executive Director of Next in Line Ministries. My true passion is leadership development for teenagers. I love to read, write, hike, and spend time with my family.

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