So, my church puts on a very large 5-day church camp each year, and because I’m a foolish man, I signed up to be a teen counselor. I’d done it previously last year, and apparently I thought it was a good idea to do it again, and volunteered to work with 5th graders (boys, of course). Little did I know, this week would be much more life-changing for me than it seemed to be for the kids. I thought I’d share what I learned (and tell you what you can do with it.
1. Show love. It’s what Jesus would do.
I volunteered with fifth-grade boys. I’ll give you one guess how they behaved the first couple days. Yeah, it was bad. One kid especially quickly became the bane of my existence.
This kid rebelled in every way possible. Everything I said, he argued with it endlessly and did the opposite. He refused to do just about anything both me or the two adult counselors in my group told him to do. I won’t burden you with the details, but needless to say— he was a handful. Not only him, but all the other kids weren’t behaving well either. Instead of showing mercy and love (but still being authoritative), I focused only on dealing out punishment. On Wednesday (day 3) afternoon, the woman onstage teaching the kids said that “leadership wasn’t just bossing people around.” This changed my world. You can’t just tell them what they can’t do. You have to be encouraging. You have to be loving. You can’t focus on being God’s swift-and-terrible sword of judgement. While discouraging bad behavior is part of the job description, encouraging good behavior and being loving to the people you’re leading is, too.
2. Don’t try to do things on your own power. Turn to God when things get hard.
When I was having the most trouble, I would sit and complain about it or try to fix things by my own strengths or abilities. Therein was the flaw that kept any change from happening. I was trying to do it with Spencer’s (mine) power, not God’s. That whole time, I could have prayed for the situation to get better, but instead I got bogged down in the frustration and didn’t even think about it. Pray to God when things get hard. It’ll do ya good.