Know that kid in your group? Whether you’re a children’s or youth minister, Sunday School teacher, Bible study leader, or co-op parent, everyone has had that kid in their class at some point.
Often that kid is a boy. A male who just can’t sit still. He wiggles all the time and never follows directions. He’s always too busy cracking jokes or picking fights to listen.
He is your number. one. headache. Yep, you know that kid.
As a parent of that kid, I urge you to show him kindenss. Already reached your limit? Set a new one. That kid deserves it. After all, your treatment of that kid could turn his heart toward or away from God.
Everything is at stake.
Think I’m overselling it?
Maybe, after that kid has once again laughed at all the wrong times and hammed it up for his friends, you really will reach your limit. Then, that kid may go home from your program and in brokeness, as my that kid did, confide, “They’re making me not want to go to church anymore.” Or echo another statement our that kid uttered, “I hate church.”
Truth is, youth and kids’ workers MUST meet each child at the point of the young person’s need.
What to do with that kid? What practical advice is there for the teacher of that kid? First, pray! Ask God to show you the good in that kid. Ask for ideas on how best to reach him. Ask God to make you willing to try new things.
Next, get to know him. Underneath those annoying habits of his is a boy or teen with dreams and interests. Discover what those are! One excellent leaders in our that kid’s life invited him to ride in the front seat with her on a trip. That gave her the chance to find out what was important to him. Next time your group takes a trip, ask that kid to sit in the passenger seat—instead of shooing him to the back of the van.
Another excellent strategy is to give him a special job. God planted something into the recesses of men—even men-in-the-making—that thrives in having a task to do, a unique purpose. Don’t think of it as rewarding misbehavior. In truth, it is investing in improvement. Our family hunted quite a while to find adults willing to implement this idea. For our that kid, having a purpose, a place to belong and serve, was the turning point in his frustration with attending church.
Remember, God, in His wisdom, created each of us different. Not every boy (or girl) was created with the specifics that cause them to eagerly sit down and shut up. View that kid as a priceless instrument that, when played appropriately, produces beautiful music. (Imagine the foolishness of attempting to pound music from a violin.)
And to all you parents of that kid…
God has a special plan for your that kid. Always be his number one cheerleader, because, often, he will have no others. Don’t let teachers or family convince you that your that kid is a bad kid. Address disrespectful behavior, but encourage the “boyness” that makes that kid who he is.
Lastly, move heaven and earth for your that kid. Do not settle for adults who use church and classroom settings as an excuse to bully your son. There are adults who will show your that kid God’s love, will learn new strategies to teach him. Find them. Even if it means changing churches. Or schools. (Did I mention we decided to homeschool our that kid?) If you can’t find one, be one. Volunteer to teach or to help in his classes.
Then, one day, your son might say what our that kid did just recently, “I think God wants me to be a pastor.”
See? Everything really is at stake.