Have you ever felt stunned when a child or teenager shares something shocking?
Have you ever witnessed a crisis happening and wondered what to do?
Have you ever watched a student leave your church knowing the fears that wait for them at home or at school?
Have you ever been invited to know more about a kid’s inner battle but haven’t been sure what to say?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re probably a parent, a youth leader, or maybe even a loving friend who wants to help guide a child to hope.
Something has happened and now someone needs your help.
Thinking about what to do and say when you don’t have answers or explanations, can cause a person to feel heavy, worried or even afraid.
The thing is, no one knows everything they need to know when responding to someone in crisis, but everyone has what it takes to support a kid carrying something that’s overwhelming and painful.
Related Reading: Love Every Family
When kids are hurting, you have what it takes to help them with what’s next.
Grace and support are two things you can give.
For me, when I think of support, I think of the couch at my house.
For the last 16 years, that couch has been the place people land when they need someone to listen to them, someone to cry with them, someone to understand. It’s probably why we’re having such a difficult time getting rid of it. My husband and I ordered a new couch this year to replace the old ripped one. But neither of us could make the switch. We now have two couches, facing each other in our living room. We were really surprised that neither one of us could say goodbye to it.
It carries so much of what other people have carried.
It reminds us that we belong to each other and need each other.
The couch is staying.
Everybody needs a place of connection and support that gives them a chance to be exactly who they are at the moment and permission to deal with whatever crisis they’re currently facing.
It’s a space full of grace.
Grace is communicated by the culture of your life and ministry.
It can tell the story that a kid’s life isn’t the sum of their good behavior.
It can tell the story that their life story is valuable even if their world is crumbling around them.
It can communicate that mistakes don’t define a life because grace covers our lives.
The kids who land on your couch have names and faces and messes that they don’t know what to do with. They have heavy burdens and walking in the room was probably the bravest thing they could do. Chances are, it took most of their energy to walk into your environment, or to begin the conversation in the first place.
Remembering this helps us be supportive. When we embrace the mindset that, “This kid is doing the best he can with what he’s got in his hands,” it becomes easier to release the grace that says something like, “You are still loved and seen here.”
Related Reading: Three Ways to Effectively Communicate with Parents
Think about the people who land on your couch. Your couch may be an actual couch in your ministry, but it might also be . . .
a bean bag chair
a coffee run
or a car ride.
People open up when they feel like they’re in a safe place. And the people who have landed in the safe place you provide are probably a lot like the ones who have landed in mine.
This blog article was excerpted from the e-single Crisis Through the Phases by Brooklyn Lindsey. Get this entire e-single for free with a subscription to GoWeekly – a library of resources for church leaders. For more e-singles about developing small group leaders and engaging parents, check out the You Lead Book Series on Amazon.