How to Spend More Time With Students This Summer

Like many student pastors I struggle with finding time to hangout with students. In the summer I feel this struggle more than ever. During the school year most students are too busy to hangout with you anyways, but during the summer many of them are always looking for something to do. There are days when I’m in my office planning an event, answering emails, and recording money coming in for a mission trip and in the back of my head I know I could be out with some of our students building relationships. Let’s face it, you can’t leave the office and spend everyday with students this summer. If you do, you will probably get fired! But how do we manage hanging out with our students this summer while making sure all the office work gets done and our ministry doesn’t fall apart? Here are a few ideas that have helped me spend more time with my students this summer while still getting stuff done in the office.

Get to the office earlier. I wanted to mention this first so I could get it out of the way because honestly I suck at this one. I have managed to do it a few times this summer, but it’s always tough since I’m not a wake up at 5am to read your Bible and pray kind of guy! However, getting to your office early allows you to knock out some work while your students are sleeping in until noon. This way you can hangout with them during the afternoon while knowing you got much off the office work done during the morning.

Take them along with you. Awhile back I wrote about this idea of taking students along with you while you do stuff during the day. I’ve seen this work great so far this summer! A few weeks ago I needed to go to Walmart to buy some storage bins for some supplies and I decided to take two of my high school guys along. It was a great time to get to know them better and let them get a glimpse into my everyday life. I love doing this because it allows me to do what I need to do while still hanging out with students! It’s a no brainer! Take students with you when you do stuff during the day this summer!

Do stuff at night. During the summer students want to stay out late and rather be out doing something than sitting at home on Facebook or Twitter. So instead of hanging out with them during the day hangout with them at night! Have them over to your place or meet them for bowling or putt-putt. Either way, look for things you can do with them at night. This will allow you to get office work done during the day and then spend time with students at night. This summer I have been doing Monday night basketball with our high school guys at a local park. We start playing at 8:00 and play under the lights until 10:00. One caution here for married student pastors and youth workers, don’t sacrifice your spouse for this! You can click here to read more about my thoughts on keeping your spouse first in student ministry.

Take them out to lunch. Students love food and I do too so take them out to lunch! When noon hits your ready to get out of the office and grab some lunch so pick up a student or two and take them with you. I can guarantee that no student will turn you down if you call them and ask if they want to go to lunch and it’s on you! One thing to remember with this is don’t take a student out of the opposite sex if it’s just you two. If your married, have your spouse come with you or send them off to have lunch with a student of their same sex.

These are just a few ways I have been hanging out with students this summer while still getting stuff done in the office. Summer is such a great time to do relational ministry with your students, but it takes intentionally and discipline while you still have other things you need to do. What are some ways you are creatively spending time with students this summer?

Protecting Your Spouse from the Demands of Student Ministry

If you have been involved in student ministry, whether as a volunteer or pastor, you know it’s a demanding ministry. If you don’t intentionally guard against it, student ministry will take all of your time, energy, and health away. That doesn’t mean we should look at student ministry as a bad thing, but we should realize it’s an important ministry that demands a lot from it’s leaders.

I would say one of the most important things you must guard is your relationship with your spouse. It’s sad to see how many student pastors have terrible relationships with their spouse because they spend so much time and energy doing student ministry. At the end of the day, we are called to be Godly spouses before we are called to be student pastors. So what are some practical ways we can protect our relationship with our spouse from the demands of student ministry? Here are a few I am pursing in my own marriage.

1. Have a date night. This is one of the best ways to protect your relationship with your spouse. Have a regularly, I suggest weekly, date night with them. If you can, leave your phone at home or turn it off! Do whatever you have to do to have a night that is reserved for just you and your spouse. If you don’t intentionally plan on this type of thing, you will never do it. Plan it, put it on your calendar, and don’t let student ministry rob you of this time with your spouse. (I love this post about creating a date plan)

2. Leave your ministry work at the office, the best you can. This is a hard one in our culture because with smart phones and laptops, we can do the same amount of work at home as we do at the office. But do your best to leave your work at the office. Don’t come home and answer more e-mails and do sermon prep, come home and be totally there with your spouse. Also, try to not even talk about ministry. Be flexible with this one though. There will be times where you will have to answer some phone calls, emails, or have to do some work at home, but make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. Make sure they are okay with it and understand why you are doing it.

3. Put your spouse’s needs above your student’s needs. No matter if your at home or on an activity with your students, your spouse’s needs ALWAYS come before the needs of your students. I have had to learn this the hard way, but I am convinced that God will honor the decision to always make sure your spouse’s needs are being meet first. This may be off subject, but don’t let your students cross any lines of authority and respect with your spouse. I remember one student pastor saying, “There are two people that my students know not to disrespect-Jesus and my wife.” Loving your spouse, protecting them, and putting their needs first is what your students need to see, even if it’s inconvenient for them.

These are just three practical ways I am striving to protect my relationship with my spouse from the demands of student ministry.

[Question] How do you protect your relationship with your spouse from the demands of your ministry?