There are many different wrongs the girls in your youth group may need to forgive, and some offenses may be more difficult to forgive than others. We cannot treat the act of forgiving someone for flirting with a girl’s boyfriend or forgetting to call her after school the same as when a girl may need to forgive a parent for verbally abusing her, or a guy in her life for using her sexually. Many more girls than you realize have deep wounds and hurts that they need to overcome.
Forgiveness is a huge part of healing, but it does not necessarily come easy.
Points to remember:
- For girls to come to you for help or listen to you, they need to know you care about them.
- They need to know you will keep their experience confidential from the rest of the youth group or church. However, be up front about what you cannot keep confidential, such as abuse or if they are a harm to self or others.
- Men should not meet 1:1 with a girl. Always have a female leader present.
- Do not respond to an emotional girl with phrases like, “Don’t be so upset,” “That’s not a big deal,” or “Don’t cry, it will all be ok.” Do not belittle her emotions. It may not be a big deal to you, but it is to her. Show compassion, love, and comfort.
- Avoid the phrase, “I know just how you feel.” Even if you’ve had the same done to you, you are a different person and may not respond the same way. It’s better to say, “I can relate, as I’ve had something very similar happen to me.” Only say these things if you truly have something comparable.
- Sharing your story may be helpful, if similar in severity.
- Realize that where someone is spiritually will make a big difference in how they respond. However, it’s important to remember the spiritually mature may also struggle with forgiveness.
- Realize that the deeper the wound, the more of a process it may be to forgive. Sharing verses and telling them to forgive in that moment may not be realistic.
- Help them understand that you know forgiving someone can be a hard thing to do. The deeper the hurt, the harder it can be, but forgiveness is a part of healing. One cannot truly heal from the hurt without forgiving. It does not mean that what was done to offend them was okay or, that you condone the behavior– but it can relieve them of the anger and bitterness toward that person. As a Christian, it is also a God-given command to forgive. Unforgiveness hinders our fellowship with the Lord.
- They may take on blame for the action, particularly in the case of abuse. Reassure them that they did not deserve it and that it is not their fault.
- Live as a victor, not a victim. Forgiveness is a vital step toward victory.
- If someone has deep wounds, recommend counseling and know of a good Biblical counselor to use for referral.
Here are a few key Scripture passages dealing with forgiveness:
- Lk 23:34, Eph 4:32 – If Christ can forgive us, we can forgive others.
- Mk 11:25 – Forgive, so that you can experience forgiveness.
Kim is the wife of Gerry Horton, currently a Local Church Missionary in South Carolina. She has been involved with Children/Youth ministries for 28 years. She is a mom of 3 grown children. Kim is also a nurse with a history of working in a psychiatric facility for children and adolescents, has been a school nurse at the elementary and high school level, as well as teaching health sciences at the high school level.