I don’t mean to be favoring the dudes in our youth ministries, but from my experience and gut— getting the disrespectful dudes to follow Jesus is an on going battle. Back in 09, I extensively argued (in the post titled: Youth Ministry Male Mentorship) that:
Talking to a teenage dude about spiritual stuff is like basically talking to a wall…..And trying to motivate a dude to pursue righteousness is a tough-tough task.
Attracting disobedient and disrespectful dudes in your youth ministry is a great and bad thing.
The great thing—- is getting unchurched influential guys in the doors of your church so they have an opportunity to encounter Jesus so their lives can be changed by Jesus.
The bad thing is—- they are highly disruptive, exhibit horrible behaviors and manners, quick witted, love to talk back using expletives, always hitting on and disrespecting the good Christian girls and everything (and I mean everything) is overtly sexual for them.
Think about all those gnarly and disrespectful dudes who have showed up to your youth ministry. How did you discipline them when they were disruptive?
Right now I am struggling with trying to figure out how to discipline dudes who are highly disrespectful but are somewhat wanting to follow Jesus. For some odd reason, God keeps giving me trouble makers who annoy a lot of other adults. How do I show love while laying down the law to these dudes?
This is how this post is going to work— I am going to share my discipline tactics and you will share yours in the comment section.
I need a lot of help thinking about different strategies on how to deal with these difficult dudes.
Here are my tactics:
- Make sure the rules, expectations and consequences are clear. With unchurched dudes, they don’t know the rules. So every month during small group time I remind them of what is expected out of them. Some of my expectations are: integrity all the time, no cell phone usage, respect me and others, listen when others are talking, and what is talked about in group, stays in group. Some of the consequences are: a private convo with me after group, help clean up all the trash after youth group and a phone call to mom and dad. I have never banned a dude from youth group. However I have come really close. I joke with my dudes that if they break the rules, I will make them do an insane amount of push up or wall sits. Disrespectful dudes need boundaries and structure.
- Be confident and consistent. Disrespectful dudes are typically pretty arrogent and cocky so you will need to confront them with confidence or else they will dominate you and destroy the youth group’s culture. Being consistent with your consequences shows your dudes you are serious about your expectations and you will reinforce consequences every time they break the rules. If you don’t reinforce the rules and consequences your dudes will even disrespect you more.
- Have a private conversation. If things get out of hand during youth group, make sure to talk to them one on one. Don’t rebuke them publicly. This is highly embarrassing for them. Disrespectful teens are great at running their mouth they will make it their mission to show off in front of everyone by refuting your public rebuke. So get them behind closed doors with no other people around and have a private-2 way-honest convesation. During this private chat, reinstate to them you really like them but you really don’t like their behavior during youth group. Help them see the difference between their identity and behavior. Communicate clearly who they are is not associated with what they do. When disciplining disrespectful dudes privately, they always counter your discipline by saying: “You just don’t like me.” Ensure to them you like them, but dislike their actions during group. There is a big difference. Opening the lines of communication, privately, allows them to express their point of view, shows them you are a listener and enables you to brainstorm a course of action.
- Treat them like adults. Disrespectful dude are just wanting to be respected. When they feel disrespected they will put up a tough and nasty fight. So make sure to treat them like adults which means they will have to take full responsibility for their actions because that is what adults do. Tell them to act like adults and you will treat them like adults.
- Keep your cool. Don’t show your anger or resentment. Trust me…there have been times where I wanted to strangle some of these disrespectful dudes but you cannot react. Stay focused and respond in a gentle and tactful matter. Don’t let your frustrations overtake you. When confronting and disciplining dudes model a tone that reflects the fruit of the Spirit. Be calm.
- Students have 6 longings. Teenagers want to be loved and supported. Chap Clark in his book: Disconnected states that all students have 6 longings:
1. Long to belong
2. Long to be taken seriously
3. Long to matter
4. Long for a safe place
5. Long to be uniquely me
6. Long to be wanted
So think about these longings as you deal with their defiant behavior. A fist bump, positive words or reinforcement can go along way with your disrespectful dudes. Appreciation and verbal affirmation helps improve a teen’s self-worth and behavior.
So it is your turn. And who knows…my discipline tactics can be completely wrong and I am doing the wrong things? So please help. What are your tactics when disciplining your disrespectful dudes who show up to your youth group?