Playing Favoritism In Youth Ministry

Can I be honest? I don’t like all of the students in my ministry.

Can I be honest? I don’t like all of the students in my ministry.

I love each one of them; however, I don’t enjoy spending time with all of them. This is weird to type out, and I struggle with it, but I am being honest. Some students are easier for me to spend time with, while others are easier for me to love on. Just because something is easier does not mean it is the best option. 

For example, there was a student (let’s call him Zach) in my ministry, and everything he did got on my nerves. He never did anything bad or wrong. He actually would hang out in my office during the regular office hours. He wanted to be around me and around the church.

Unfortunately, I found myself sometimes spending time with other students and not checking up on Zach, or not noticing when Zach was in a room by himself. Sometimes, when I would hear him walk through a door, I audibly sighed and said, “What does Zach need now”? Zach came from a broken home. His dad was in the picture, but at a major distance. He was raised by his mom, and no one ever showed Zach how a young man was expected to act. Even other students became annoyed with Zach. He would do things to get our attention. Sometimes this would entail making a noise, interrupting a conversation, or trying to tell a joke that was not funny. It was easier for me to spend time with other students and leave Zach out in the cold. 

Jesus stops because He knows everyone deserves love.

The more I think about Zach, the more I return to the passage of scripture in Luke 19:1-10 dealing with Jesus and Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a tax collector for the Roman Empire, and he was not liked by much of anyone. We can imagine that when people saw him they would sigh and say “What does Zacchaeus want now”? He had money, but more than likely no close friends. Zacchaeus just wanted someone to love him. He probably sought out people, but they would close him off. It was hard to love Zacchaeus. He even went to great lengths to get attention. He climbed up in a sycamore tree just to see if this fellow named Jesus would even notice him. If I were to guess, Zacchaeus thought, “If this Jesus guy won’t pay attention to me, no one ever will”. Jesus stops for Zacchaeus. He even says he wants to spend time with him. People were confused and asking, “Why would you want to do that”? 

Jesus stops because He knows everyone deserves love. Just like Zacchaeus, my “Zach” just wanted attention and love. Zach wanted someone to pour into him and spend time with him, even if it was not the easiest thing to do. 

Now, don’t misunderstand me. It is ok to spend time with some students a little more than others. Jesus even did so. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus only took Peter, James and John. He did not take all the disciples. However, this does not mean that we only spend time with our student leaders. Like the Great Commission states in Matthew 25:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”. This does not tell us to make disciples of only popular kids, football players, student council members, band kids, etc. It says “all nations”. Do you have a Zach?

I know I do, and I am going to call him and ask him to hang out right now. 


About The Author: Hayden Dennis

Hayden is the student pastor at Checotah First Baptist Church. A life long Oklahomie, who loves building future leaders of the church. In his free time, Hayden enjoys being a wannabe comedian, playing basketball, and striving to be the greatest monopoly player of all time. As a joke, he entered the 2013 NBA Draft