Take a moment and think back to your first visit to a theme park or something that is distinctively memorable as a child. What were some of the qualities?
Have you ever gone to an amusement park, zoo, or aquarium as an adult after going as a child and thought, “I always remembered it being so big”? It’s amazing what 10 years does to a person’s perspective. This concept can be applied to many things. Think of movies you watched when you were younger, only to go back and now understand the humor that was once not intended for young ears.
This is something that Steven and I have even seen in our small group. One of our boys who is usually bouncing off the walls, slowly walked into group and sat on the couch. You could tell something was up. When we asked what had happened he simply stated that his love interest at the time did not return the feelings for him. We always discourage our boys to date in Jr. High (insert past post link on why you discourage jr. high boys to date in jr high). Our first instinct was to play down the situation and tell him to brush it off and that in the long run it’s not a big deal, but that is only what we were thinking is best. We have to think about how the student is feeling.
I can remember how crushed I felt when I found out the girl I liked didn’t like me back, I know now that it was no big deal but that’s because I’m 21 and I can see the big picture now. A 12-year-old’s big picture in this moment is the only girl I will ever love doesn’t love me. We need to get used to changing the perspective of how we see our students’ problems. Instead of playing down an issue because you know it won’t be a big deal, this could instead be turned into a relatable moment between you and that student. There is great power behind a student knowing that you have gone though the same thing–it creates a special bond.
Next time you are with your students be thinking about how perspective can play a role in the conversation. Be praying that the Lord lets you know when to bring in your big picture perspective or when you need to look though the eyes of the student who may have just had their little world rocked.
Kyle Wilke is 21 year old junior high ministry volunteer, and my (Steven) co-leader for junior high small groups. He has been volunteering for 3 years and loves students. He is also on staff at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA.