I was starting my second quarter of Be Bold, but at a new service time. I had a whole new group! Despite the fact that this group was new and unfamiliar with each other or me, we dove right in.
We talked about this question: If God Is My Friend, Why Are People Mean to Me? They all shared vulnerably and authentically about mean things people have said or done. It was incredibly meaningful to see how open they were in sharing so personally with a brand-new group of preteens. As adults, it can be hard to dive too quickly into a tough topic that requires vulnerability. Kids don’t share those inhibitions.
But there was one insight from kids that stopped me in my tracks.
“Grit Is Really Important”
I read from the curriculum, “Some people think God should stop people from being mean to us.” Before I could continue one boy shouted, “Oh HECK NO!”
I looked at him. “Why do you say that?”
“Because we need to go through hard times in order to develop grit. Grit is really important for forming our character, and if we only ever experience good things we won’t have grit.”
Then another kid chimed in. “Yeah, and if you never experienced anything SAD, you wouldn’t know what it is to be HAPPY.”
Well wouldn’t you know it, their thoughts made the exact point of the Scripture we were about to read. Not only was it the perfect segue, but it was so encouraging to hear this perspective coming from preteen boys.
This generation of kids gets slack for being spoiled, for getting participation ribbons even when they don’t win (or not even keeping score so there is no “winner”), for not knowing how to handle hardship, for being “too soft” and needing trigger alerts on the slightest of offenses.
But what I learned was, not only did they all share openly about hardship; they welcomed it. That’s far more mature than I was at their age.
Learning From Preteens
I learned something that day, something the Scriptures told me but somehow seemed more convicting coming from the mouths of 6th graders. I learned to be thankful for the pain. I learned to be thankful for the sad times so I can appreciate the happy times. I learned that if a 12-year old boy can welcome hardship to develop his grit, then so can I.
Be Bold isn’t just for the preteens; it’s for the leaders, too. I learn from the lessons, and I learn from the kids. Their perspectives offer me a fresh look even on things I pridefully like to think I’ve already mastered.
One of the Be Bold Values is “We’re all in this together.” That doesn’t just mean the preteens; it includes us leaders. As you teach preteens, be open to learning. You may find that God has something to tell you through the mouth of someone much younger than you. You might find yourself challenged to embrace the hardship.