Lately I have been spending time with lots of new youth. Most of them have been middle school and most of them have been relatively unchurched. I discovered that if I am not careful I will focus more on trying to keep them in line than I do on sharing Jesus with them. This is something I am trying to change.
Here is what the situation looks like right now. We have had an uptick in bus kids coming to our church so I have about 4 or 5 people each week who are just not used to church and the culture that we have at church. I have also started working with the after school program at the local middle school and have been struggling trying to find the right balance of games and people. I have found over the past few weeks that it is much easier for me to get stressed about wrangling kids than it is to be excited to tell new people about Jesus. I have found myself praying for them to be good and not hit each other and not yell at each other, but forgetting to pray that they get to see Jesus in a real way. I have found myself falling into a pattern of behavior modification rather than trying to help them find God.
But lately, I have been trying hard to see them not as kids who don’t know how to act, but rather people in need of the love of Jesus. Seriously that simple change in perspective makes a huge difference in 1) how I feel about going to these events each time and 2) how I treat people. When I see these students as people who need Jesus I suddenly like them more. I see their actions not a disrespect and trouble, but rather symptoms of what is happening in their heart.
You know what else has happened? When my attitude toward them changed their attitudes changed as well. Those who were combative because people who will listen and will seek me out. They aren’t perfect. It hasn’t fixed everything, but seeing people as children of God has made a big difference.
This is stuff I of course knew and stuff I had taught. It was just something I forgot and it has been cool to see God bring this back to me lately.