October 15th // Kris Grant

Posted on by SpokaneYFC

As a national organization, Youth For Christ has a set of standards called the Five Essentials. Somewhere along the timeline of our organization, a group of people got together, probably prayed, listened to God, and established five characteristics that now create the baseline of YFC’s ministry. The Five Essentials include widespread prayer, loving relationships, faithful Bible teaching, collaborative community strategy, and adults who empower.

As you read this, I don’t want it to seem like I value one of these Five Essentials over the rest. Looking at that list, I realize that our ministry couldn’t survive and thrive without possessing each of those characteristics. That is, in fact, what makes them “essential”. Of course we need a wide network of people praying for students, leaders, and staff, and of course, we need to be faithfully teaching the Bible to kids that we work with. If, as a ministry, we were trying to operate without fulling embracing each of these elements, I’m convinced that we would probably be ineffective.

That being said, I’m going take some time to focus on just one of the Five Essentials. For me personally, it is the one that I strive after the most, and to be honest it’s the one that makes all of the pain and heartache that I experience worth it. The thing that keeps me coming back day after day is the loving relationships that I get to experience with the people that I do ministry with.

    I was recently asked to lead a 45-minute training session for YFC leaders on what it means to be in loving relationships with students. Two thoughts immediately crossed my mind when I was asked to do this. First, I wondered how I could possibly take a topic like loving relationships and create a clear, concise, helpful lesson. Second, I wondered what made me qualified me to teach on such an important subject. As it turns out, the answer to the latter question helped me considerably as I tried to figure out the answer to the former.

    The thing that qualified me to teach on loving relationships is the same thing that qualifies any of us to do anything that relates to God’s kingdom, and that is…….God. God qualified me by faithfully putting people in my life that have loved me, and over time, have given me some amazing insight on what it takes to build loving relationships with kids in the context of ministry.

    Throughout my life, there have been three men that have poured into me and played a huge role in molding me into the man that I am today. When thinking about the way that these three guys loved me and built a relationship with me, there were three major attributes that they all possessed that I think about when I’m trying to build loving relationships with the students and leaders that I work with. Those three characteristics are consistency, authenticity, and the ability to love unconditionally.

The idea of consistency is so important when building relationships with students. The mentor in my life that best exemplified consistency was a guy named Kaleb. Kaleb was my math teacher every year from 7th-12th grade, and one of those years I also served as his teacher’s assistant. That means that I spent 1,260 hours in the classroom with Kaleb. On top of that he would meet with my friends and I to do weekly bible studies, even if that meant waking up early to do it before school because all of our schedules were so busy. Kaleb was always there in my life and taught me that consistency can be the key to building relationships with students. So many of the students we work with don’t have any consistency in their lives. They move around constantly, they don’t have a steady parental figure in their lives, and sometimes they don’t even know where their next meal is going to come from or where they are going to sleep at night. That is why I strive to maintain a peaceful youth center, and fill it with caring, consistent adults that are willing to show up and keep showing up into the lives of kids, and introduce them to Jesus.

The second characteristic of loving relationships is authenticity. The person that demonstrated authenticity to me was a guy named Matt. When I was in college Matt invited me into his life. He didn’t try to become somebody that he wasn’t in order to get me to hang out with him. He simply said this is who I am, this is what I’m doing, and I want you to come join me. Matt is a great example of somebody who authentically follows Christ. I learned so much from Matt, and he was able to pull passions and talents out of me that I didn’t even know existed. When I think the type of relationships that I want to have with the kids I work with, I think a lot about my relationship with Matt. I want to invite students into authentic Christ-sharing relationships and provide them with opportunities to experience what Jesus meant when he said He has come to give life, and life to the full.

The third and final characteristic of relationships I will talk about is unconditional love. The person that embodies the idea of unconditional love in my life is a man named Tom. Tom is the type of person that is so loving and encouraging that you feel like you can take on the world after having a conversation with him. I’ve known Tom since he was my 6th-grade science teacher, and I’m sure that as a student, employee, or friend, I’ve made decisions that disappointed him, but I’ve never once had to question the love that he has for me. When I think about how I want to love the students that I work with, I think of Tom. I was able to better understand Christ’s love for me because of the way Tom loved me. It may sound cliché, but love conquers all. It’s the most powerful tool that we have at our disposal as followers of Christ, and it’s the fastest most effective way to build relationships with students.

    I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on loving relationships. All I know about them is what has been shown to me by people that God has put in my life. Kaleb, Matt, and Tom showed me that the keys to building relationships with kids are consistency, authenticity, and unconditional love. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to have three such amazing men of God demonstrate those things to me throughout the course of my life. I also realize that they did so imperfectly. Fortunately, Jesus is able to fully embody every aspect of what it means to be in a loving relationship with us. He demonstrates His consistency through his Holy Spirit that is always with us and gives us the power. He demonstrated His authenticity by becoming a man and living life with us while remaining fully God, and he continues to demonstrate it by inviting us into the amazing works that he is doing. Lastly, He demonstrated His unconditional love for us by dying on the cross and continues to show it to us each an every day despite our failures and shortcomings.

    As Christians, Jesus serves as a perfect example of how God wants to be in a loving relationship with us. Now it is our duty to be that example for those that don’t know him yet. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says “ We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” I want the way that I love the kids to reflect the way that Christ loves them. The best way that I know how to do that is to be consistent in their lives, invite them into my life and authentically be who God created me to be, and above all love them unconditionally as Christ loves me.

Kris Grant

City Life Director / Hillyard
[email protected]

LEARN MORE ABOUT KRIS AND HIS WORK AT YFC HERE.

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