This past weekend I had a former student from my small group reach out to me for some help with a problem. For two nights he and I had some lengthy text conversations. This morning I was re-reading our conversations and something stood out to me that I hadn’t realized either night I was conversing with him via text message. I didn’t really give him earth shattering advice or something he didn’t already know.
What I did was just let him vent his side of the story in a conflict he was having. I suspect he wasn’t able to do that with the person he was having an issue with. All I did was let him know…”I’m here, and I care”. Sometimes we just want someone to listen to our side of the story. If I can’t tell that to the person I’m having a conflict with, then I have to tell someone. But here’s the key, you have to be honest with the person who is venting to you. Tell them if you think they messed up or did something wrong, do it constructively and with love, but be honest with them.
I think this is a basic need not just in student ministry but with everyone. We all want to know that someone is there to hear us out, and give us advice, even when sometimes that advice is not easy to hear. I told him some things he already knew about himself, and I made sure I let him know this was an area he needed to work on and he agreed.
The bottom line is that by the time the weekend was over he had totally worked out the problem with the other person, they had healed their relationship and he felt a lot better than he did when he first reached out to me on Friday night.
Sometimes in student ministry the best thing we can do is just be a good listener. Be firm, be honest, and give advice but above all, just listen.