As I spoke to a classroom full of sixth graders I realized three things:
- They’re so awkward. I don’t mean that as a dis, I just really mean it’s an awkward time of life. Their physical bodies are going through so much and they are figuring out who they are, who they want to be. They’re figuring all this out in the midst of their family and friends and society telling them who they should be. My heart went out to them.
- They have the ability to make you feel awkward for showing them attention and love like …
- My mission doesn’t change. No matter who is in front of me I know that I’m to speak life. I’m to steady and quiet myself and listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit. Any person or group I find myself in front of is a divine appointment and I have a responsibility to do what He asks.
So, you know, no pressure. I was there to talk about organization. But really, I was there to speak into their lives, I just wasn’t quite sure what He wanted me to say yet.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever stood in front of a class of about thirty 11 year olds, but let’s just say you might have an easier time of training a cat to roll over than captivate their rambunctious selves.
Man, I love these kids.
I began relaying information. Some things are just boring and I let them know that. I said, “Sometimes we just have to get through the basic stuff so we can get to the fun part of practicing and learning in creative ways.”
I also let them know they didn’t have to like anything I said, they could think it was lame and they didn’t have to use it if that’s what they chose. However, I let them know regardless of how they felt about what I said my expectation was for them to show respect.
I explained that I respected them. They could find that evidenced by the fact that I think of them and how I can support them, even on my days off. I said, “I know your time is valuable so I prepare before I come to your class. My expectation is that you show me the same respect as we spend this time together. This is no longer about you as an individual; this is about all of us.”
I wanted them to start seeing their choices don’t just affect them. I said, “If you choose to have your own conversation during this time, you’re choosing that for the rest of us as well. We can stop and listen to your conversation if you so choose to use our time that way.”
Slowly they began to be a little more attentive, a little more engaged. Body language started to change. They were still silly, but I love that. I encourage that.
Somewhere in the middle of our time together, I heard the click. I get to hear that shift when I stand in front of students on a weekly basis and it’s one of the sweetest sounds. I let them know the only reason I expected these things from them is because they were capable of doing them. I spoke slowly and sure and I looked them each in the eye. I knew this is what I’d come to do.
“You’re valuable. You’re capable. You were created for something special. When I come here, it’s not to get you to be like anyone else. If you were supposed to be me, you would be. But you’re not and that means you’re needed. When I come here it’s so I can get to know who you are and together we can figure out how you learn and what your unique gifts are.”
They were all looking at me. They were quiet. It was as if they opened up and were willing to be filled. I continued,
“Look, I know a lot of you have a hard time getting yourself organized because you come from homes where that doesn’t happen. Your parents love you and have to work hard so they can’t always be home as much as they want. Some of you live between two homes so it’s easier to forget or misplace things. A lot of you are dealing with things you shouldn’t have to. You’re walking through situations that are just not fair. I’m so sorry and I honestly wish it wasn’t like that. Things are difficult. I get it. Trust me, I understand what it’s like to work through challenges. And that’s what they are, challenges. Stop using your circumstances as excuses.
Excuses are things we give to get out of doing what we’re responsible for. Challenges are sharing what makes things difficult and admitting we need help. You’re all overcomers. I’m so glad that your teacher is really emphasizing being champions: they overcome, they conquer. And when you stop making excuses and start facing your challenges, you’ll find that you’ll do more than overcome because that’s what you were made for.”
I left feeling filled, being encouraged and knowing that it has just begun. The training has commenced and we’re getting ready for the big fight. It will require all of who they are, but I’ll tell you one thing I know for sure, they’re walking out as warriors, as champions. They will overcome and their purpose will be fulfilled.