Let’s take a look about how learning to apologize in urban youth ministry might go poorly:

Them:  That was wrong at you to lose your cool at the new kid.  And you said you were a Christian! (Raising their voice.)
You:  I didn’t lose my cool!  That new kid was acting outrageously and needed to act like an adult and get his behavior under control.
Them:  I guess that acting like an adult is yelling.   You always tell me I’m wrong when I get angry.  I could see it on your face that you were mad.  He probably won’t ever want to come back now because of you.
You:  Well, this is different.  Someone has to control the behavior around here.

Now, the same situation, only now you have a heart that is ready to be taught by the urban youth you are trying to lead:

Them:  That was wrong at you to lose your cool at the new kid.  And you said you were a Christian! (Raising their voice.)
You:  Did I lose my cool?
Them:  Yes!  Your face was all mad and you yelled at him.  Whenever I yell, you tell me that it’s wrong.
You:  You’re right.  I do say that to you.  Just felt like he wouldn’t listen to me unless I yelled.
Them:  Well you are always telling me to think about my feelings and why I am mad and that there has to be another way to communicate besides yelling.  Maybe you should have done that, instead.
You:  Wow.  You have been listening to what I have been saying.  I guess I need to listen to myself.  Thanks for pointing this out to me.  Do you think I should apologize to him?
Them:  Definitely.  He might never come back otherwise.
You:  Alright, I’ll see if I can catch up to him.

Sometimes, in our relationship with the Lord, we will be lead to apologize to an urban youth even though they aren’t aware that we have been sinning against them in our hearts and mind.  This step of confession and repentance is also important in building the love/trust dynamic in our relationships.  It communicates 1) that you were thinking about the urban youth when you were away from them, 2) you were willing to reveal something that you could have kept secret and 3) your apology proves your desire to continue to improve the relationship with the urban youth.

Apologies provide a critical learning by example experience for the urban youth.  You mostly like often are confronting them with spiritual truth and wanting them to repent and apologize for their action.  We often desire that they perform this behavior when they have never seen it modeled in their own life!  God, in His grace, often allows us to be the models of this behavior so they can walk in our footsteps.  Bottom line, if we don’t apologize to our students when we fall into sin, chances are – they won’t learn to do this either.

Matthew 10:24
A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.

What about you?  Have you expereinced a confrontation with an urban youth that has actually improved your relationship with them?  Share your story...

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