Being an advocate for students means believing in students. While everyone else is content to see them as obnoxious, hormonal teenagers wrapped up in their own worlds, we see more. We see young men and women who were wonderfully and fearfully crafted in the image of their Creator. We see not only who they are, but who they will become once they are able to tap into the immense reservoir of God-given potential waiting to be unleashed just below the surface.
Being an advocate means seeing teenagers as Jesus sees them. When others saw Matthew as a tax collector, thief, and traitor, Jesus saw a disciple and one of the authors of his story. When others saw the Samaritan woman as a promiscuous outcast, Jesus saw one of the first evangelists who brought an entire village to him. When Jesus saw Peter, he didn’t see a man who would be catching fish and mending nets for the rest of his life. Jesus saw a man who could go where he went and do what he could. He saw a man who would walk on water. He saw a man who would carry on after he was gone. He saw a rock. Even after Peter’s betrayal, Jesus pulls him aside and encourages Peter to “feed my sheep.”
Being an advocate means believing in students when they don’t even believe in themselves. In the book The Godbearing Life, Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster write “of particular importance to adolescents is friendship with an adult who sees in them potential they do not necessarily see in themselves. Studies consistently indicate that a relationship with such an ‘adult guarantor’ during adolescence outweighs all other forms of youth ministry in terms of positive influence on youth development.”