A new teacher in Colorado wanted to get to know her third grade students better. She knew many were from disadvantaged backgrounds, but she wanted to understand their daily struggles. So she asked them to write notes titled ‘I wish my teacher knew’.
The results were heartbreaking.
Students were surprisingly open and honest and didn’t even want to do it anonymously. They shared their struggles: no friends, a missing parent, lack of resources at home.
As youth pastors, we can learn from this teacher. We may think we know our students, but what woud happen if we’d ask them to do this, to write us anonymous notes with ‘I wish my youth pastor knew’? What would they write about?
Maybe you think students are far more jaded than third graders, that this would never work with teens. You’d be surprised though. I remember an evening once in my youth ministry when we were talking about sex. The atmosphere was very open, warm, and safe, despite there being over 40 students from both sexes. Much to our surprise as youth leaders, students started openly sharing their struggles in this area. They wanted us to know, because they felt safe and loved.
I dare you to try this. Ask your students to write to you, or print it so it’s fully anonymous if they wish. Ask them to share ‘I wish my youth pastor knew’. It may just rock your world.
[Photo and story credit: ABC News]