What is it that matters the most to you?
- Your kids
- Your job
- Your 401K
- Your next vacation
- A favorite hobby or sports team
There are a million different ways you could answer this question. And the same is true for the kids in your ministry. For every kid, something matters.
Maybe for the children or teenagers in your ministry . . .
- Homecoming matters.
- Unicorns matter.
- K-pop matters.
- Slime matters.
- Chocolate donuts matter.
- Instagram matters.
- Play-doh matters.
- Fornite matters.
- Pepperoni pizza matters.
- Marvel movies matter.
No matter where you live or who you lead, this part is always true: What matters to someone actually matters. And when the leaders in your environment take the time to figure out what matters to those they lead, children and teenagers in your ministry begin to believe they matter, too.
Being personal requires paying attention.
The Art of the Pause
Think for a minute about the day Zacchaeus met Jesus. When Jesus stopped to speak to Zacchaeus up in that tree, He modeled friendship. Friendship is not always convenient or easy. In fact, it almost always requires us to stop what we are doing even when what we are doing is very important. Still, Jesus stopped.
When Jesus stopped and showed interest in Zacchaeus, He validated Zacchaeus’ worth.
Sometimes we all need to pause and engage in seemingly small conversations. That may be especially true when the conversation is about something that interests someone else. When you make it a habit to discover another person’s interests, they become more interesting to you. And when you pause to discover another person’s interests, you actually become more interested.
Here are a few suggestions to help you discover what really matters to your kids.
1. Pay Attention to Clues
Listen to what music they want to play.
Listen for who they talk about following on social media.
Listen to their body language when they walk into a room.
ASK: What is something new I learned about (kid’s name) today?
2. Ask Clarifying Questions
Be careful not to confuse what a person does with a person’s interests.
A kid on a Little League team may really just be there for the snacks.
A girl on the lacrosse team may just enjoy time with others girls on the team.
ASK: How do you feel about (activity or sport)?
What is it about (activity or sport) that you enjoy?
3. Consider Their Perspective
Whether you work with seven year olds or 17 year olds, you may have to step back from your adult world and reimagine life from a different perspective.
Study child or adolescent development for your age group.
Learn about personality types.
Read about how cultural realities affect the interests of the kids and teenagers you know.
ASK: What is true about this age developmentally that will help me know this kid better?
How does the current culture dictate the interests of the teenagers in my group?
Are the leaders in your ministry communicating the following to the kids in their groups?
What matters to you matters to me.
You matter to me.
If not, what can you do to help your leaders see that what matters to the kids in their groups should matter to them, too?
For more ideas on how to encourage leaders to discover the interests of the kids they lead so they can validate their worth, check out the latest from Orange Books: It’s Personal by Reggie Joiner, Virginia Ward, and Kristen Ivy.
This book challenges leaders to answer five key questions to ensure they’re leading in a way that’s less shallow and more personal. To find out more, visit www.ItsPersonalbook.com. While you’re there, be sure to download the FREE “It’s Personal Reading Guide,” for volunteers, leaders, and teams.