Have you ever felt like you were thrown into a situation with a family or student, and you didn’t have the official training to adequately handle the circumstance?

When you spend time in the trenches of ministry, you will eventually face tough situations that you feel unqualified to handle.

Especially when it comes to students or families experiencing pain, suffering, or sudden loss.

I’ve learned over the years that it’s not as hard as you think. But it won’t come from your youth ministry bag of tricks in your office!

I like to call it “the power of presence”.

To effectively and lovingly shepherd our students and families, we must be fully present with them in their pain and suffering.

Think back to a time where you faced a difficult circumstance. What did you need most from others in that moment?

I could almost guarantee that it wasn’t a 4 point sermon or loud energetic youth night at church. It usually comes down to someone being fully present and in the moment with us.

It is our physical, emotional and spiritual presence that we can give students that matters most. Even though you may not feel like you have much to offer, remember that your presence and attention go a long way.

Secondly, you have the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. 

I know this sounds like a no brainer.

But how often do you rush into a situation without truly relying on God’s help?

God is the one who brings ultimate comfort, peace, acceptance, and love. He’s the one who knows exactly what people need at just the right moment.

It’s important to discern when to speak, when to listen, when to encourage, when to pray and when to just give a hug.

The combination of your presence, and the Holy Spirit’s presence can be powerful.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you enter in the messiness of life with others:

Are you in a healthy spiritual and emotional state?

Do you have an agenda, or will you just allow yourself to be present?

What is your ultimate goal?

These are just a few questions for you to wrestle with as you walk with students in the midst of pain & suffering.

It ultimately comes down to what 1 Thessalonians 2:8 states:

“We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well because you had become so dear to us.”

Written by Alan Ramsey is the Student Ministries Lead Pastor overseeing the middle school and high school ministries at Fellowship Church in Knoxville, TN. He’s been working with students; specifically middle school students for over 20 years and is honored to play a small part in God’s plan for their futures. He and his wife Diane have been married since May 1997 and have 5 children; Madison, Abigail, Kayla Ray, Rusten and Favour.