A Note from Mary Margaret West: I’m already raising my hand at the question that Nikki poses below. Teen girls can be brutal, but we have the privilege of helping them walk through this stage of life. However you can leverage your influence to help them engage rather than alienate other girls is going to make a difference.
“Her??? Why does she have to be in our small group? She’s so annoying! You should see the way she acts at school.”
Have you ever heard that from one of your regular attendees?
Does that break your heart a little? Yeah, mine too. But there’s hope for getting our girls to be more loving and accepting of students in their environment that are different. Different is one way to put it, but let’s be honest, some girls struggle to reach out with the Gospel because they genuinely find others frustrating or annoying.
Students often create friend groups that cater to their individual personalities; they share secrets, text constantly, share the funny memes with each other and they hang out so much that some may call them a clique. When girls have their core group of friends with similar interests and they encounter someone they find frustrating, annoying or have different beliefs, things tend to go south pretty quickly.
As leaders or parents, it is likely you’ve witnessed the tension that comes with personality clashes. The good news is we have the opportunity to steward those conversations using scripture.
You can use those moments to remind girls of the truth in Scripture.
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”1 Peter 3:18
The reality is Jesus died for us ALL and we need to be careful how we treat someone Jesus died for. This verse can be used to gently remind girls in your group that we are not superior and need to treat other girls in a way we want to be treated. We shouldn’t look down on unbelievers but should ask God to soften our heart to want to reach out to them. After all, we were once labeled “unrighteous” and it’s only through Jesus that we are who we are.
“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37–39
Sometimes we need the reminder that lost people act like lost people. There may be a girl who says offensive things or does things that frustrate her small group (that she may or may not be forced to come to) but the best course of action is to respond with love and not an eyeroll. ☺ A little love goes a long way! You can encourage your girls that they are honoring God by the way they love someone who may be hard to love.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” Colossians 4:5-6
Be excited about showing your girls they have the unique opportunity to show grace which helps “outsiders” see Christian staples: love and grace. Help them understand they are able to show love and grace because of the Grace and love they received from Christ. We are cautioned to be wise in our actions and words which implies the importance of both.
Ultimately, when girls put emotions aside and think about someone’s eternity being forever changed, it helps them overlook the offenses and annoyances and allows them to see others as someone who needs Jesus. It can be hard for our Christian girls to reach out to unbelievers that they don’t see eye to eye with, however, if they understand the power they have to truly show love to someone who needs the love of Christ, they will consider it an honor. Does this mean there will never be conflict or another eyeroll in your youth group? Ummmm….no! But it does empower the girls in your group to begin to see others through eyes of love and not judgement.
Nikki Tigg is an MTSU grad and currently lives in Murfreesboro, TN with her husband and son. She felt called to serve in High School Ministry in 2012 and led co-ed and girls groups. She has been Student Ministry Associate at New Vision Baptist Church since July 2017. Nikki has a passion for helping girls understand their identity in Christ and loves connecting with students, parents and leaders. She loves spending time with her family, decorating and enjoys an active lifestyle.