I always end children’s church with a response time. This past Sunday I ran late and had to dismiss the kids before we did the response time. So, I told them if they needed to talk to me that they could hang out afterwards. I had a couple kids take me up on that offer. One in particular stayed after to talk about how she was being bullied. I listened and then I spoke, then she went to Sunday School. After she walked away I realized, I talk too much.
Quick to listen, slow to speak. John 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” All to often in ministry we are quick to listen, but even quicker to speak. In my desire to help the little girl I mentioned earlier I quickly jumped into talking. In fact I did much more talking than she did. I did more talking than I did listening.
We shouldn’t give them ALL the answers. Certainly there will be times when we need to give them answers. However, far more often we need to let them find the answers. We need to help them find from certain, but let THEM find the answers. I’m currently reading a book called “First Hand”. The writers of this book talk about how, as young adults, they found the faith that they had to be shallow and empty. They go on to share that when they began to explore faith they came to the realization that the faith they had was really borrowed from their parents or from teachers in church. When we give kids all the answers we run the risk of them growing up to be like the authors of this book. Fortunately, these men found a faith that was there own.
A faith of their own. The authors of the book I mentioned above only came to a faith of their own by struggling through situations and seeking the answers that were all to often given to them as kids. Having grown up in the church, the sons of a pastor, they knew all the facts. But, when they reached adulthood they began to doubt. This doubt led them into a lifestyle that certainly was not God honoring. My desire is to help kids develop a faith of their own so that they can avoid some of the mistakes that these authors made and the paint they endured.
A faith of my own. When God first called me to ministry I, like the authors mentioned above, realized that my faith, everything I knew and believed, really belonged to someone else. My father was the pastor of the churches I grew up in. I never for a moment doubted that what he and the other teachers in my life taught me was true. But, I needed to experience it for myself. I needed to have the confidence of having actually read what they taught me for myself. I decided in that moment to never teach anything that I had not read for myself. I knew that I needed to develop a faith of my own. Our children also need to develop a faith of there own. This happens with we help them find the answers, instead of always giving them the answer.
So, talk less. When I was studying psychology while getting my nursing degree there was something that they taught us to say that drove me crazy, but is actually pretty good. In fact there were a couple of methods that we were taught that I think can help us talk less, listen more, and actually help the kids in our home or ministry even more. Consider these:
- How does that make you feel?
- What I hear you saying is… (followed by repeating what they were saying.)
I seldom used these exact words, but I did use these techniques. The whole idea with these was to get the person talking so that you could learn more about them. It also helped them to work through the problem for themselves. The same can be true as we use these techniques to help kids work through their questions, doubts, and struggles.