Creating a Culture of Openness with Teen Girls – Amy Speck

Lee Lethers Podcast

For those who minister to teen girls, it is vitally important that we create environments where they feel free to open up and talk. Today on the podcast, Brian is joined by Amy Speck to talk about this and also how to help them see the truth in their lives. Amy is the Dean of Women at the Word of Life Bible Institute in Canada and a Certified Counselor who ministers daily to teen girls.

Amy always begins by saying, “Everybody has stuff, and this is the place to deal with your stuff.” Stuff can be sin, overwhelming emotions, difficult circumstances, a desire to change or any struggle your student may be going through and may not have ever told anyone, for fear or judgment or shame.

Not many girls grow up in an atmosphere of openness. While not always the case, this can even be self-induced, for fear of disappointing those your student looks up to.

Millennials and Gen Z seem to break that pattern, preferring to talk about their struggles and get help.

Let them know that this is a safe place:

Make sure they know you are always available and that they are a priority.

Be intentional about your availability. Pursue opportunities to spend time with them, taking them to coffee or a meal and having them over as guests to your home.

Repeatedly tell them that this is a safe place, and promise as much confidentiality as you can.

How to get them to Start Talking (What to Say):

Just say the words: “Do you struggle with [blank]?” Be direct. It is easier for them to carry on the conversation once you bring it up. Saying it first takes away the hurdle of bringing it up.

Assure them of the commonality of what they are going through, no matter the topic. Don’t let them become isolated by believing Satan’s lie that they are the only ones struggling with this. They are not the only one

Side note: Pornography is not just a guy thing anymore.

You want them to have these tough conversations with you so you can give them hope from God’s Word, giving them a way out.

Another way of introducing the topic would be to give them scenarios and ask them to work biblically through them.

Some set questions/guidelines:

Amy first asks their story and then at the very end adds, “Is there anything else you want to talk to me about today?” This creates opportunity for those students want to open up, but are waiting for someone to ask the right question. Many, many times this works.

Ask Questions: Keep asking open-ended follow-up questions to draw them out.

Examples: How did that make you feel? How did you seek God in that? What were the truths God showed you in that?

Ask God for Wisdom: Pray during these conversations. You will not know what to do at times.

Listening:

We will want to jump in and help fix everything, but what they need is for God and His Word to work. We need to just listen.

Listening helps make them feel valued. Make eye contact, ask good follow up questions and block out a large amount of time for them so they can say as much as they want. No rushing or dismissing them.

Be an empathetic and Godly friend. A huge part of bearing each other’s burden is listening.

How to Help them Deal with it:

Speak truth only after they have shared and you have explored with questions. Trust needs to be built and care and concern for them must be evident before you share truth. This balance is key.

Two kinds of Teens – the one who knows the truth and the one who doesn’t know what the truth is.

Knowing truth still requires faith and trust and application in the moment. Let God and the Holy Spirit work in them. Keep speaking the truth.

Be real about the commonality of sin and name them. Deal with them biblically in the lesson or in small group time. Be real yourself about your own struggles and how you grew through them as well. Be vulnerable so they know its not crazy for them to struggle too.

We need the gospel. Emphasize that Jesus faced similar situations. He knows exactly how they feel and promises to never leave them so they can trust Him in this thing. (Hebrews 4:15)

Everyone runs to where they feel valued, so make sure your students find their value in the person of Jesus Christ and the gospel.

Make sure they are believers first. Then remind them of Christ’s empathetic love and that they are not condemned for their struggle (Romans 8:1). They have freedom in Christ’s forgiveness.

Identity – Point girls to Christ. Their identity lies in Him: they are God’s beloved child and cannot be separated from Him and His love.

Remind them that their suffering is not wasted. God is using this to make them more like Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

God loves us and will walk right there with us.

This will be a lifelong process.

Closing thoughts:

Pray with them and for them. Pray for timing and opportunities to talk to them, pray with them to remind them that you will be praying for them. Prayer is a good reminder that it is not about us, but about God.

Build a relationship, show you care, and ask questions. It will be messy, but dive in. They desperately need you.