I spend my Monday lunch break hanging out with boys in our local schools. It's rewarding because it's the one chance I get to just hang out with kids and not have to be in charge of any program or anyone else--my mind and heart can just focus on the boys. I have found over the years that not only do I get to influence the student I am assigned to, but also his buddies who want to be around me as well.
Last week in Kid City, one of those classmates showed up in the 4th grade room. Bryce couldn't believe I was a pastor (kids don't usually ask you what your job is) and worked at a church, but he was excited to see me. In fact, the next day at school he told the whole class about our church and what he had learned (how Jesus died on the cross and what it all meant!!). He came back this past week on Easter, so I pulled him and another 4th grader in to the large group room before we got started and asked if they would be my stage helpers for the day. I have learned over the years that people feel a sense of worth when someone believes in them enough to ask them to do what they view as an important task. All Bryce and Josiah did was to move stuff around on stage before and after games and hand me props when I needed them, but it made a huge difference. Later that afternoon at the Easter Egg Hunt, Bryce brought his mom over to meet me. Before he walked away, he leaned in and whispered, "Thanks for letting me help today--that was really cool."
I saw the same look in his eye that I probably had in my eye when one of my professors/mentors at Cedarville, Cheryl Fawcett, asked me to look over a talk she was giving at a conference, because she wanted to know if I thought it flowed well and made sense. I couldn't believe she was asking for my advice and felt so honored. (Looking back, I know now she didn't really need it, but she was pouring confidence into me.) I'll say it again, "People feel a sense of worth when someone believes in them enough to ask the do what they view as an important task."
It's a simple truth, but the more you let your kids know that you believe in them, you'll begin to see positive stuff come out of them you'd never expected. Bend over to get on their eye level, put your hand on the shoulder, and say, "Hey, I need your help today. I don't think I can do everything I need to on my own. Do you think you can ___________?" Try it--often, kids just need a chance.