Archives For Preteen Ministry

I was reminded this week of the power that a father carries in the life of a son. From love to leadership, the father sets the example for manhood. Boys need their fathers. At the same time, there are so many young men that have absent fathers, and they need a strong male to mentor and guide them. We all need someone to love us and guide us. We all need an example of manhood.

In 1992, Derek Redmond was a favorite in the 400 meters at the Barcelona Olympics. About 150 meters into the race, he tore his hamstring. Derek collapsed in the middle of the track. Determined to finish the race, he stumbled forward. His dad broke through security and came to walk alongside his son. They crossed the finish line together. This was a global expression of what it means for a father to love and guide his son.

In life and in ministry, we all meet difficult people. Difficult people are those people who never approve of anything you do and always feel the need to let you know their disapproval. They consume much more of your time than is necessary just so they can complain about things that may or may not be under your control. These may be great people and they may have great intentions, but their emotions have taken over their brains. Their actions are not normal, and certainly not constructive. Whether they’re complaints are right or wrong, these “difficult people” can suck the life out of you.

I don’t have a foolproof way of dealing with difficult people, but I have picked up a few things over the years. Here are 5 tips for dealing with difficult people in a healthy way:

1. Don’t get defensive
When you become defensive, it paralyzes your ability to make good decisions. Most of the time, these people are approaching you with an outburst of emotion. The worst thing you can do is to respond by letting your emotions get out of control.

2. Respond with grace
No matter what they say or do, respond with an attitude of grace. When the Pharisees would complain or hurl insults at Jesus, He always kept a spirit of grace. Sure, Jesus would rebuke them. But He would also take the time to teach them to understand the Truth. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

3. Listen closely for what they’re NOT saying
I’ve found that some complaints are only the tip of a much larger iceberg. Listen for clues that might point to the larger problem. It could be that they have been hurt by you or someone else, and their complaints are just a symptom of a much deeper wound.

4. Work toward resolution
The best way to deal with difficult people is to solve the difficult situation. Look for solutions without compromising your calling or vision for the ministry. Even with the most difficult people, they will often shed light on real problems that need to be solved.

5. When necessary, cut ties
There comes a time when it is healthier for you and the other person to just cut ties. Again, try to do so with a spirit of grace, but get out of dodge. In ministry, there is way too much at stake for you to be consumed by one difficult person. For the sake of the ministry, separate yourself from that person and move on.

What tips do you have for dealing with difficult people?

When I was a kid, I absolutely despised summer reading! The only reason for me to pick up a book in the summer time was to prop up the broken leg of the ping-pong table! But over the years, I’ve enjoyed the slower pace of summer and the opportunity it brings to read some books on my wish list. I may not get through them all, but here are the books I have on the agenda for this summer:

1. Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God by Bruce A. Ware
I’m currently reading this book, and I am loving it. The purpose of the book is to enable parents of 6-14 year olds to guide their child through all major doctrines of the Christian faith. This book is Systematic Theology 101 put in an understandable, easy-to-use guide for parent-child discussions. I am definitely going to recommend this book for preteen parents.

2. Gospel-Centered Discipleship by Jonathan K. Dodson
I’m really excited about the emphasis that our church has placed on discipleship for the coming year. I’ve heard great things about this book, and I really think it can help me better define discipleship for my life and ministry. I’m also looking for some major themes that we can use to better train our leaders who are discipling preteens.

3. Speaking to Teenagers: How to Think About, Create, and Deliver Effective Messages by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins
I’ve been in the Children’s Ministry world for 10 years, but I feel a shift occurring in our preteens and in our ministry philosophy. I really want to call them up and challenge them on a deeper level, so I’m hoping this book will give me some ideas for how to move in that direction. I know it may not be 100% applicable to preteens, but there are always transferable nuggets.

4. Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
As we launch our new preteen ministry, the first year of curriculum is going to include teaching on some major doctrines: Biblical inspiration and authority, what is sin, the Gospel, etc. I spent two semesters going through Grudem’s Systematic Theology textbook, so I’m hoping this book will be a refresher for some of the points made in that book.

5. Growing up Too Fast: The Rimm Report on the Secret World of America’s Middle Schoolers by Sylvia Rimm
I’m intrigued by this study. The study surveyed over five-thousand preteens to look at the big issues they face in this stage of life. Many of the issues were thought to be “teenage” issues, but the study found that many preteens (and even younger children) were struggling with the issues.

6. Adolescence Isn’t Terminal by Kevin Leman
This is another book that I want to read in hopes that it might be a recommended resource for preteen parents. I’ve read other books from Dr. Leman, and I’m a fan of his research and writing style. The book tackles some major preteen issues such as sexual maturity, peer pressure, relationships, etc. The reviews all say that is very practical and helpful for parents, so I’m looking forward to reading it for myself.

What books are you reading this summer?
What books should I add to the list?

President Obama recently endorsed the idea of same-sex marriage, while the state of North Carolina voted to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. The conversation was already happening, but these events have led to a barrage of rants and comments on the subject.

If you came looking for my comments or opinion on the subject, you’re not going to find it here. I do have a response to the issue, and I am not ashamed to share it. In fact, my responses, will most likely tip my hand. But I don’t feel like a status update, tweet, or blog post is the best way to share my views. If you wish to hear them, I would love to have a conversation with you in person or via Skype or phone. I choose not to discuss such sensitive things with anyone without being able to see them or at least hear their voice.

With that being said, the issue was too great and the activity happening on social media was too hazardous for me not to respond. I’m not responding to the issue itself, but to the conversations that it has sparked. Specifically the conversations that are taking place among Christians. Here is my plea to those of you that find time to make comments on the subject:

1. Do Not Make a Response without consulting the Bible and spending time in prayer
The majority of responses I’ve seen or heard have made flippant references to the Bible, but none have even tried to be educational or helpful. You cannot reference the Bible as a source without reading it. Stop pointing at the cover, and start showing people the pages. 2 Timothy 3:16 says,  

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”

As Christians, we have the Bible for the source of Truth for our lives, but also for the teaching of righteousness to others. For the Bible to be the powerful, effective tool that God intends, we need to be spending time in it and praying for wisdom to understand it. Don’t use the Bible as your crutch for this subject if it is not your crutch for daily life!


2. Please bury the hatred
This goes for Christians and Non-Christians. There will never be any healthy discussion or understanding when both sides approach the subject with a vile hatred for one another. If we want others to understand what the Bible says on the issue then we must approach them with respect and love. If your child was to sin, you would lovingly point them to the Bible and equip them with the Truth. Why can we not do the same on this subject?
Please read Ephesians 4:1-15.


3. Stop expecting your comments to just automatically change someone’s mind
I’ll never forget a comment from Michael Head, a pastor at my home church where I grew up. When a discussion arose about sin, Mike said,

“What do you expect from a lost world?”

His comment left an impression on me because it is true. It is ignorant for us to expect those who do not know the Truth to live by the Truth. We are all captive to sin until we experience the power of the Gospel.

Many times, we confront sin with the expectation that our crafty wit or rehearsed comments will change the minds/hearts of others. The problem is this is not our job. We are neither judge, nor ruler. Your comments can be helpful (if you keep #1 and #2 in mind), but change comes only through the revelation of the Gospel. (Please read Hebrews 1) Commit to spending as much or more time praying for the person as you spend arguing your point with them.

This conversation will not stop anytime soon, and it will likely become more intense. As a Christian, my prayer is that I am prepared (physically, mentally, and spiritually) to speak the Truth in love (without hatred for anyone) and committed to praying for God’s Will to be done in my life, as well as the lives of others.