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The 4 Cries of a Student’s Heart

By Doug Franklin April 5, 2016

Most adults think it’s hard to build a relationship with a student. They believe that, because students are completely different from them, they’ll never understand the world students come from. I don’t buy this. Students have real needs, and if you can meet those needs, you can have a transformational relationship with them. Their hearts cry out for four basic things, and adults of all ages and backgrounds can answer that call. The four cries of a student’s heart are

1) Spend time with me.

Students know your time is valuable, so when you give them your time, they recognize they are valuable to you. As students discover how important they are to you, they will be more and more willing to open their hearts to you. Here are some practical ways to spend time with students:

  • Take them places you are going anyways.
  • Go to their activities (for example, plays, sporting events, and musical performances).
  • Hang out where they hang out.

2) Discover me.

Students have a favorite subject: themselves. Not many people want to talk with them about that favorite subject, so if you ask questions about them, they will be your friends forever. Here are a few question you can ask to learn more about students:

  • What is your favorite movie, song, or book?
  • What are your dreams, goals, and fears?
  • Who do you like? (This may seem awkward, but few people actually ask them this question, even though it’s something they’re thinking about constantly.)

3) Connect with me.

All students have hobbies, interests, and activities that they love. Some of these activities are the same things you love. Find common interests and bond over them. You may like the same sports teams, hobbies, or cooking. When you connect on a passion, plan a time to get together and do that activity together. Take that student to a football game. Plan an afternoon of art. Cook something together to share with the rest of the youth ministry. Through a shared experience, you will create a lasting bond.

“Students want to know you will never quit on them.”

4) Pursue me.

Students want to know you will never quit on them. Many adults in their lives have left them and forgotten about them, and they don’t want to be treated that way. By pursuing them, you demonstrate how much you care. So write notes (the best ones come in the mail), make phone calls, text, and ask to have coffee. These actions will communicate that you are different—you care.

If you understand the four cries of a student’s heart, you can build a transformational relationship with them.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More