My Response to Guest Post: Helping Teens in Crisis
My Friend Jeremy asked me to critique his blog after posting my recap of his blog on my blog.
I’ve read through his blog (which is really thoughtfully done) and with an eye towards improving or supplimenting his commentary, I will add my comments to his ideas, some will agree, others not. Hopefully our ideas combined will help you be a better youth pastor as you deal with your teens in crisis. Since he asked, I’m going to go ahead and give some critique, but I am aiming to strengthen his ministry and hopefully the ministries of those who choose to read both of these blogs.
The Shortlink to my summary of his blog is here. To go to his three blog posts, click on the large titles to go to those specific blogs. I will comment on them individually.
Jeremy starts off strong. He quickly lists three ways to be prepared for a Crisis. I like his idea of scheduling “available time” for students… curious to know how that looks for him on a time sheet or his week… (depending how many meetings you have, you would by chance double your time with free space, not sure how that pans out in ministry.
Be prepared to refer is GREAT! Knowing your resources is great! You should have a handle on those. If you need to bookmark a good webpage full of resources, I’d suggest mine.
My only additions to the preparation section are two fold: Your preparedness for your regular schedule and Your ability to hand-off well.
First, how prepared and ready are you to lead your youth group this week, have plans, schedule, sermon all set??? If you are constantly behind the eight ball here, you will fail if a crisis hits and will be exposed big time by your unpreparedness. This will be evident to your students, your leaders and your bosses… three crowds you can’t afford to let down either.
Second: YOUR HANDOFF! Crisis are not always schedule-able for those times inbetween meetings. (I’m sure Jeremy would agree.) My addition is, how quickly can you delegate everything on your schedule to someone else, and how would they take it. Have you trained and informed certain people of an expectation that if x happens and you can’t get back to do y, then you want them to take over. Triage is an important part to this, knowing when to hand off the person in crisis and when to hand off the meeting are two vital components to this.
Read his Resources again: REFER !!! REFER!!! REFER!!! Professional ethics across all the helping and medical professions have a section in their guidelines about referring when they are over their head. You should be able to do the same…
I call Jeremy’s first section Avoid the Quick fix. He is sooo right. Don’t be the fixer. This is especially hard for performance and project driven people. Many of these problems require a caring heart and time. Know when you are entering that zone and change gears quickly!!!
Time is also the solution to teens in crisis, such as suicidal or anxiety based crisis. The more time you give them in a patient and calm manner, the more likely you will see a favorable outcome. Keeping them talking and engaged, not placating them or blowing smoke at them, but sitting and caring is the key to getting far in a crisis.
He states environment a little in each of his other posts. I agree that developing authentic relationships is key. Talking about tough stuff is good. One point I’ve learned over time is knowing when to turn off the empathic, huggy bear and turn into a more authoritative directive helper.
There comes a point in some crisis, where you need to have the voice to say, I know you are hurting, and I am going to do everything I can to help you out. (This may include taking them to the ER, calling 911, getting parents involved. If you feel you have a good deal of their trust and confidence, it can be more suggestive. “I hear you’re struggling alot right now… I really want to help, I think the best thing right now is to get you to the er so the doctors there can help you. I will walk with you as long as they will let me, and I won’t desert you later either. I understand you’re having a rough time, but I still think your cool and my opinion of you hasn’t changed.”
Sometimes creating a safe environment requires you to be the adult and work towards everyone’s safety and well-being even when its minor things at stake. Not tolerating bullying, or cruel jokes, picking on kids, is one way they learn you mean business and will step up when needed. You gain trust by having some boundaries. You can have fun and be a cut up, but you also need to demonstrate that you will pull the reigns and tighten things up when necessary.
Finally, in your environment, your supervisor and pastoral peers may need to be included (often do need to be included). Get them on your team sooner than later. This is one time being a lone ranger is a bad idea!
I love reading when someone like Jeremy @ Seventy8productions has thought through their crisis care-giving ethos and is willing to put them out there for him to be improved upon.
Do you see something missing? Feel free to comment 🙂