Defining the Relationship: How Boundaries Foster Connection

School Leadership

Some of the greatest transformation students experience during their journey at a supernatural school is produced by the relationships they share with school leaders. In fact, experiencing community with school leaders brings kingdom principles and messages to life for students as practical application is fleshed out in relationship. Their shared connection creates a foundation of love, respect, and safety within a school environment, positioning students’ hearts to receive from the wisdom, anointing, and gifts leaders carry. 

To support students’ growth in your school’s environment, we encourage you to intentionally cultivate and protect connection with your students. Within this post, we share some keys on how to foster connection with students by first determining the level of access students have to leaders. We also share about the importance of setting expectations for connection with your students by communicating each leaders’ role, their availability, and more. As you read this post, it is our prayer that God will show you how to convey great value for relationship with students that will open doors for them to experience breakthrough, propelling them into the fullness of their identity in Christ.

Boundaries Protect Connection

We establish healthy boundaries with the people in our lives to protect the intimacy we share with them. Boundaries express need, remove fear, and create a safe environment built upon honor and respect. Walls, on the other hand, are developed out of fear and exist to keep people out, removing the ability to experience intimacy. As a school leader, it’s vital that you have healthy boundaries that will foster and protect the life-giving connection you have with your students. Relational connection is key to the transformation of individuals’ lives within a community. Therefore, it is important to determine and protect the level of access students will have to build relationship with you. 

The amount of time and energy you devote to relationship with students will depend upon your role and responsibilities, the size of your leadership team, the number of students in your school, and, most importantly, the leadership of the Holy Spirit. For example, if your leadership team is comprised of five at a school with 20 students, you might pursue connection with students by scheduling several individual meetings. On the other hand, a team of five at a school with 60 students might foster community amongst students through small group meetings.

As a leader, the measure to which you will be able to invest in relationships with students will also depend upon other factors such as being single or married, working a job, commuting short or long distances, etc. For instance, a leader who is a full-time staff member at a school may have more opportunities to meet with students than a leader who is both working part-time at a school and at another job. We encourage you to be aware of and intentionally protect the level of time and energy you can contribute to being part of students’ journeys at your school. This will allow you to live out of the grace the Lord has given you in this season, which is designed to bring both you and your students life while cultivating community. 

Above all, it is important to be guided by the Holy Spirit in this area, letting Him highlight your specific needs and boundaries so you will not be overstretched in your role. Allow Him to reveal the students who need more connection or support than others. He knows your students’ needs, has plans to prosper them, and is ready to reveal how you and your team can love and serve them throughout the year.

Below are some questions to help you and your leadership team to think about your availability to your students. We encourage you to answer these questions as a team in order to create healthy boundaries that cultivate rich connection and shape expectations for connection within your school: 

  • What is each of your team members’ personal capacity in this season?
  • What does your team members’ schedules look like?
  • How available is your team to students?
  • Beyond the practicalities of your schedule, how much access do you feel the Holy Spirit inviting your team to give to students this year?

Set Healthy Expectations

Once you and your team have determined what your availability will look like during the year, it’s extremely helpful to communicate it to your students. Such communication positions students to powerfully and intentionally connect to each leader, based upon his/her capacity. Furthermore, it supports students to establish healthy expectations of connection with your school leadership team.

To set healthy expectations for relationship throughout the year, create time to share leaders’ roles and responsibilities to students. More specifically, we encourage you to communicate how and when each leader is available to connect with students, especially at the beginning of the year. Here are some ways you can communicate your leaders’ roles and responsibilities to your students at the start of the school year: 

  • First Day of School: Introduce each leader and explain his/her role, responsibilities, and availability.
  • School Introductory Packet: Provide a packet to students at school registration with school leaders’ bios, roles, and opportunities for connection.
  • Connection Group Meetings: Create space at connection group meetings for pastoral overseers to explain your school leadership structure and for students’ to ask questions.

Continue to have ongoing communication with your students about how they can develop relationships with leaders. Additionally, it is helpful to address the transition in relationships that occurs after students graduate towards the end of the school year. While the connection between leaders and students will likely look different when they leave your school environment, it’s important to communicate how leaders will be available to students in this new season. This will help students position their hearts for change and process their transitions well.  

Cultivating Connection

After establishing boundaries and communicating expectations, it’s important for your team to determine how connection will be cultivated amongst your school community. More specifically, we encourage you to create and schedule opportunities for students to build relationships with leaders. For example, at BSSM, pastors over revival groups (a connection group) typically meet with students in small groups twice a year. These meetings provide pastors with the opportunity to connect with a few students at one time and demonstrate pastoral care to the group. 

When our school was much smaller, leaders were able to meet with students one-on-one because of the smaller student to leader ratio. Now, there are over 1000 students in our First Year program alone! As the student to leader ratio has grown, our pastors meet with small groups versus only meeting with individuals. This frees up space in the leader’s schedule and helps protect their energy and resources. This format also teaches students how to pastor one another as they observe their Revival Group pastor’s interactions with students. Depending upon students’ needs, additional meetings with revival group pastors are scheduled through interns. To help you discover ways to cultivate a sense of community with your students, below are some ideas of how you structure times of connection: 

  • Provide unstructured “meet and greet” opportunities before and after class each week.
  • Host monthly social gatherings at a leader’s home.
  • Schedule individual meetings with students.
  • Invite students to sign-up in small groups for a meal with the leadership team.
  • Plan small group meetings that allow a few students (3-5) to meet with a leader.

Our desire is for your school to fully experience the blessing of connection. We believe your students will receive great strength and grace from their relationships with your leadership team as you grow together in kingdom family. We pray that you and your team will thrive in communication with students and that peace and unity would abound in your school’s atmosphere!

For more information on how to develop your school leadership structure, we encourage you to look at the following posts:

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