Hi Lee, I was wondering if you had advice for a high school leader. One of the students that I work with has been struggling with serious depression. She has faced a tough past, and she feels as if no one loves her, that she has no loving family, and she can’t find a purpose in life. She’s not a believer, but I know that if she were to seek Jesus, she would find love in Him. It’s frustrating because I want her to know God personally, and I know it is God who saves, but I feel powerless and want to help so badly. What should I be doing?
So I Said:
Since I know you and the kind of heart you have, I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re already doing the obvious ministry stuff; by which I mean, showing the kind of love that makes her feel welcome and appreciated when she comes around, listening a lot when she needs to talk and praying specifically for the Lord to encourage her and help you understand what needs to come next. (as I said, you’re already awesome at your job, so I’m sure you’re crushing this very important basic stuff)
The thing I would encourage you to try next is to find a way to get her to articulate what she would most want in a loving family. In other words, when you sit down to talk to this gal about her depression and struggles, especially as it relates to this idea of not belonging and not being loved (specifically by her family) I want you to try something really cool.
Her tendency is going to be to focus on the bad things in her life - the things that make her depressed. When you have an opening, ask her some questions that make her think about things the other way around. Ask her to tell you what she would want in a loving, supportive environment. What would she imagine the perfect dad would be like? If she could design a community of friends where she felt totally safe, loved and invited in, what would that look like? what kinds of things make her feel welcome, connected and loved?
With these kinds of questions, you’re getting her to think about what a life outside of her depression could be like. You’re giving her a chance to paint the picture of what she would want life to be like. This is really good for a number of reasons. First of all, she’s thinking about positive things, not negative. Not only that, but you’re getting to know this girl even more. Now, you can help the female leaders in your ministry reach out to her in a more informed way. You can also help older girls in the youth group learn how to love and accept her specifically. You can’t change this gal’s misbehaving family, but you can become the family she needs. Lastly, (and this is really cool) you know how to plan your Bible lessons. You can show this gal all the ways Jesus is exactly the love she’s been waiting for.
Try out some open-ended questions and learn more about where this gal is and what love means to her, and then you can not only show her that love, but you can show her the many ways Jesus is able and willing to give her the love she’s longing for.
ASK ME A QUESTION