How good of a listener are you? What? How god of a listener are you? One of the things that help students trust you with what they want/need to talk about is they know you are a good listener. What students need in their life is a leader, an adult, who can and will be a good listener to them. It is when we as leaders fully listen to our students, that trust will be had and the word spreads among them, you are a good person to go to because you listen well. When we as leaders listen well, students who we have helped will let their friends know, “You should go talk to them. They will listen. They care.”
How do you show this? I’m sure there are a ton of different ways, but this is what I try to do every single time when a student comes to me:
No judgment or advice at first– The student already has been judging themselves enough already. They came to you to talk. It’s okay just to sit there an listen. I think it is in our nature to want to say, “I know what you need to do.” Don’t. There is something powerful in just sitting back and letting them vent it out to a listening ear. Sometimes they will even figure it out themselves just by talking through it.
Do what you suggest– If there is something or someone that needs to come in from the outside, like a parent, or another pastor who has more knowledge in that area, dont just tell them, “You should go talk to them.” You dont want to just pass them off. Go help them get in contact, be there with them when they come. You are their pastor, be there with them. It means more to them.
Speak truth and encouragement– When a student comes to you, this is a great opportunity to speak to them in truth and love. Share Scripture with them. Encourage them. Tell them how you appreciate them coming to you and sharing this. What a better way to be there for our students when we can walk them through what Scripture says and encourage them for the steps they took or the steps they have just made by coming to you to talk.
Follow up and… oh ya, FOLLOW UP!– It’s not a one time thing. I feel our goal as pastors to students is to not just help in the time of a “crisis” but to follow up with them and walk with them continually, when everything has gotten better. They will trust you more than ever now because you were there for them and now relationships and conversations will be more genuine than ever before. Follow up always.
When we listen well, students will know and see you knowing and seeing them.