Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sticky Situations

Chris Schneider, a volunteer leader in Dallas, TX (at Woodrow Wilson High School, one of Jim Rayburn's first clubs), recently shared an idea that I believe will be a great addition to The Young Life Leader Blog.

Sticky Situations.

Chris writes, "We could help educate leaders about what to do in situations that most of us are likely not prepared for. I am sure some of this happens in staff and volunteer training but they can't cover every situation. On Twitter and the Blog we might be able to express many different unexpected situations, where there might be proposed good solutions on what to do. It would be good preparation for ways to react if a certain situation comes your way."

For example: (these are some that have happened to me)

What would you do if you came home one night and found one of your young lifers sitting on your steps, because they had run away from home?

What would you do if you were hanging out at an eatery after club and one of the kids passes out in the restaurant from being on drugs?

What would you do if a parent comes to you all out of options and ask you what they should do about their troubled kid, what would you say?

There are many different scenarios that people have experienced out there that might be interesting to hear. Also, it might open up the door for someone who is in a situation that might need some advice on what to do. You just never know. Anyways, I just thought this might be a neat idea and might turn into something cool. Chris

Thanks for sharing this idea Chris. Let's get started:


What would you do if you came home one night and found one of your young lifers sitting on your steps, because they had run away from home and were refusing to return to their parents' house?

Would add your wisdom and what you may have learned from experience in the comment section below? It could be a huge help to thousands of leaders across the world!


  1. Each situation like this will have different circumstances. In most cases, a runaway is acting out of pure emotion. In some cases, there may be abuse by a parent or other family member that is prompting this. Depending on the time of night the teen showed up, my first action would be to talk to the teen and try to determine why they ran. I wouldn't let it get too far, though, before I insisted that the teen either call their parents and let them know where they are, or get them to give me the number so I can call.

    However, if the teen alleges abuse, most states mandate that we, as youth workers/custodians, must contact state authorities and report this immediately. We should be up front with the teen and let them know that sometimes we have to act in their best interests, even if it seems to them like we are 'ratting them out'.

    In any case, ask your local YL staff what the reporting laws are in your state, and what YL requires of you. This is a difficult situation, because you want to help the teen - and there is a balancing act between what they want and what is good for them.

    Don't fall into the trap of being as emotional as the teen who is counting on you. Whether or not they say it, your levelheadedness in this situation will be a comfort to them. They are already not sure of their life; they will be reassured to be around someone who appears more stable than they are.

    Please, leaders, don't be a 'buddy leader' at this point. Remember, you are their ADULT friend who wants to share the love of Jesus with them. Tough love is called for in this situation, sometimes. Don't be guilty of harboring a runaway, and jeopardize the entire YL ministry in your city, just because a teen tells you they want to be with you instead of with their family. Call the parents and let them know their child is safe. Be a conduit of communication between the child and the parents, if possible. But remember, the laws are probably pretty well defined in your state for this situation, so be careful to follow them the best you can, and DOCUMENT everything that happens. You may be called to account for the events of the evening by the parents, or by authorities. Have your facts straight.

    I know this may sound a bit scary, but 5 minutes of research into the laws, and 15 minutes of thought/planning on what you would do in this situation BEFORE you get into it, will help you out immensely. Truth is, until each of us is in this dilemma, we really don't know how we'd react. It pays to have a bit of a plan.

    1. Thank you so much to whoever took the time to write out such helpful insights! Wise words shared here.