Social Work and Children: Employing a Faith-Based Approach - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Program Spotlight
January 30, 2018

Social Work and Children: Employing a Faith-Based Approach

Psalms 127:3 refers to children as a "heritage from the Lord." In social work, we honor that heritage by assisting children most in need. Although often heart-wrenching, this endeavor also fills social workers with great joy, as they witness the innocence and hopefulness of childhood up close and personal. God's work can be seen every day on the job, but challenges are abundant as well. Read on to learn how you can overcome these challenges and draw on your faith to make a difference in children's lives in the field of social work:

Listen
Children paired with social workers desperately need to be heard, and yet, many social workers fail to listen to their concerns. Listening means resisting the urge to impose some sort of agenda. Instead, acknowledge what young clients have to say, and remind them that their feelings are valid.

The children you encounter may struggle to communicate or could behave in an openly hostile manner. They'll make genuine listening almost impossible, and yet, you must find the strength to hear what they have to say and to respond with full empathy. Listening paves the path towards mutual trust, which is the cornerstone of any social worker-client relationship.

Offer a Physical Outlet
Children involved in social work often require an outlet for their energy, which, unchanneled, can make productive communication almost impossible. This is particularly true for children with ADHD or other disorders. Allow children to release immediate stress by dancing, jumping, or even stomping. This will help them calm down and interact in a more positive manner. Those who struggle to share difficult emotions may find it easier to do so by playing with toys, sculpting with clay, or drawing a picture. Every child processes pain differently, so provide plenty of options to meet each client's unique needs.


Be Prepared to Not Like All Clients
It's a difficult truth to accept in social work, and especially when the majority of your clients are under the age of 18: you won't enjoy working with every child you encounter. Many will test your patience. Some may scream at you or hurl insults your way. Remember, these children need your help every bit as much as those who sit calmly and demonstrate gratitude. You might not like every young client, but you should show all of them Christ's love, no matter your personal feelings.


Putting the Gospel into Action
The circumstances you see as a social worker may test your faith. How can God allow innocent children and their families to suffer so much? However, you'll also observe acts of grace in which Christ's teachings shine through. You can be a beacon of light in the lives of those who have given up hope.

Spend a few hours away from work sifting through your favorite Bible verses until you find those most likely to inspire you on the job. Psalms 127:3 is ideal if you work with children, but you may also find inspiration in these verses:


· Acts 30:35 — "In everything I’ve done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them."
· Proverbs 11:25 — "The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped."
· Proverbs 19:17 — "Mercy to the needy is a loan to God and God pays back those loans in full."

It is important not only to carve out time from your busy schedule to learn from the Bible, but also to put the verses you read into action every day. The Bible instructs you to be patient and show empathy: two of the most critical aspects of social work. It also demands that you thank the Lord every step of the way. Integrate prayer into your daily structure as a social worker, and you'll find it easier to handle the challenges and joys of working with children in need.

As a social worker focused on children and families, you face considerable challenges both on and off the job. You'll find your work trying, but also deeply rewarding. Draw upon Christ's teachings, and you can make a real difference in the lives of those you serve.

If you’d like to learn more about professions that enable you to serve wholeheartedly and faithfully in your life’s work or want to learn more about a biblically based, Christ-centered education at Geneva, we’d love to introduce you to Christian perspectives at work in the field of Human Services. For more information on how Geneva College can help you pursue your ministry goals, please phone us at 855-979-5563 or email web@geneva.edu.