Looking for a Counselor ?
Your primary concern when looking for a counselor for your club is to find men who have a heart for reaching boys for Christ. Yes, it is helpful that they have some woodworking, camping, or teaching skills. Yes, it is important to have the time available to work with the boys. But, can you see the Lord preparing their heart for this ministry?
That is the key. I have often seen men begin their adventure in the ministry with few of the skills that I thought would be necessary to be effective, but somehow the Lord helped them acquire those skills through mentoring from fellow counselors and educational programs, but if the Lord has not prepared their heart for the ministry, they will probably be inneffective counselors.
How do you know if a man is ready for this ministry -- especially if the potential counselor may not be fully aware of God's calling himself? My experience tells me that as the recruiter, my first priority is to pray regularly that the Lord will lead me to the right men. Second, it is important to be active in my church community so that I am in contact with potential counselors; and third, I need to have my ears and eyes open to see the workings of the Spirit in the men of my church community.
If you haven't figured it out already, this approach to seeking out counselors does not include putting ads in church bulletins or newsletters. Let the Spirit guide you to personally seek out those wherein you see evidence of giftedness for this ministry.
A good way to approach your initial contact is just to extend to him an invitation to have coffee with you and possibly another counselor, so that you can explain a little bit about the program. Make sure he understands that this meeting in no way obligates him to anything, but that you feel it is important that he get a clear picture of what the Cadet ministry is about before he says yes or no. Ask him to take the information that is presented and pray about it and that you will talk to him in a few days and ask if he feels the Lord's calling.
In your meeting with the potential counselor(s), it is important to be very up-front about the struggles as well as the exciting things that the Lord is doing. One example I always use (as a veteran counselor) is that of a boy/Cadet that I felt I never had much impact on. He always seemed like he'd rather be somewhere else. Fifteen years later, I ran into him as a pastor of a church and he thanked me profusely for ministering to him in his early years. I was dumbfounded. The truth of the story is that the boys are watching and learning even when you think they are not. Your actions as a Christian speak just as loudly as your teachings. Often there is very little "instant gratification" in working with boys. The impact you have on the boys may not bear fruit until years later.
The Cadeting ministry takes time, energy, lots of prayer for the Lord's guidance, and certainly some perseverance, but God also promises lots of joy to those who are obedient to Him.
The Calvinist Cadet Corps ministry offers several tools that will assist you in recruiting counselors. Your best tool is always sharing your own personal experience as a counselor, but in conjunction with that you will want to:
- Have with you some of the program materials (Cadet guidebooks and counselor manuals) to give a clear picture of the type of activity the ministry utilizes.
- Show the DVD program 1, "This is Cadeting", which gives a great overview of the ministry.
- Direct the potential counselor to the Cadet web-site so that he can see at his leisure all aspects of the Cadet ministry. Point him (or print out for him) especially to the educational opportunity page that explains all the support that is available to him.
- Offer an assistant counselor position (if practical) where he can work along side a veteran counselor for a year until he gains confidence.
- Be honest and say you do not have all the answers and that you will contact the Corps office via our guestbook or phone because the staff is eager to serve you.
I have always asked counselors to make at least a three year commitment to the ministry (my recommendation, certainly not the Corps requirement). Most other offices or ministries in the church require such a time commitment. The reasons for this are:
- For the counselor's sake, it makes sense because it takes a year just to get your feet wet — learning the best ways to handle the boys and becoming familiar with the program materials.
- It takes some extra energy, as a head counselor or trainer, to get a new counselor up to speed and if you have to do a lot of training every year, it can take away a lot of time needed for the boys — the real object of your ministry.
Some clubs have the new counselor actually sign a "contract" that says they understand the commitment they have obligated themselves to. Not a bad idea, because it can spell out exactly how much time is expected of them for preparation, meetings, weekend events, and education/training, etc.; and the counselor knows just what to expect and how serious you are about this ministry to boys.
Afraid this commitment stuff will scare away a potential counselor or two when you feel desperate for every person you can get your hands on? Believe me, my experience has been that a half-hearted counselor is worse than no counselor at all. The boys catch on quickly if a counselor comes unprepared or with an attitude of "I'd rather be somewhere else." It's not worth having a counselor there just for the sake of having a counselor there because of the discipline problems or frustrations that occur in these situations.