Do you need me?

“Mama, do you need me?” my 2-year old daughter, Hope, cried from the living room.

The truth is, I didn’t.

When Hope cried out to me, I was cooking dinner – making homemade mac & cheese out of squash. I had two boiling pans on the stove and the oven was hot. I was afraid that involving her wouldn’t end well; that either she or I would get hurt.

In an effort to prevent this, I’d handed Hope some play-doh, hoping it would occupy her long enough for me to finish making dinner.

It worked… Until it didn’t.

When I didn’t respond to her initial cry, Hope came running into the kitchen.

“Mama, what you doing?”

“Mama, do you need me?”

As I stared into Hope’s eyes, I knew I couldn’t refuse her. More than anything else, Hope wanted – no, she needed – to be needed.

So, I called her in and explained how hot everything was. Then we carefully measured out the cheese and other ingredients we needed. When the buzzer went off, I turned off the burners, allowed things to cool, and then slid Hope over so she could dump all our ingredients into the pots.

Throughout the whole process, Hope grinned from ear to ear. Because she helped make it, Hope couldn’t wait to taste her mac and cheese. Doing something worthwhile made her feel accomplished. What’s more, she realized how good it feels to be needed.

If that’s true for a toddler, how much more is it also true for a teenager?

Most youth workers know it’s important to create a culture of welcome. So we spend countless hours creating an inviting space and training adult and student leaders to welcome others.

Read the rest of this article here. 

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For more on using students leaders to create a culture of welcome, check out Jen's student leadership book, Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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