The best way to train your teenager in the way that he or she will go is to be on a mission together. This can look a hundred and eleven different ways: trips to Africa, trips to Mexico, trips to Detroit, trips to homeless shelters, trips to the grocery stores. You can even do what we did this morning, and head to the local food bank.
Teenagers are awesome. Just really, they are. The problem with them is they don’t even know it about themselves. Oh sure, they will flex and talk to their face in the mirror when they should be looking at you, or they take an uncountable amount of selfies, but that’s not the sort of awesome I am referring to.
I mean, you can take a group of 30 sophomores and set them in front of an assembly line full of boxes and rice and dried milk and canned peaches and green beans, and you can run the through a 30 second pep talk, and you know what happens? Two hours go by, and they have filled 9 pallets with boxes. They have filled 900 boxes to be delivered to the elderly. And they laugh and high five the entire time.
All that happens and more. And you know what happens when you join them? You get to overhear things like, “Mrs. Newberry, can we come do this every month?” or, “I didn’t know it was going to be this much fun.” I especially loved the kid who said, “Can you imagine how happy those old people are gonna be when they get this food. This is awesome!” You’re right buddy. Those old people are gonna love it.
I am so grateful to Layla’s English teacher for requiring the students to work 5 hours of community service each semester. She didn’t just tell them to think of other people. She provided a way. Thirty kids from a fairly well-to-do area of town who have probably very rarely ever wondered where their next meal was coming from or worried about where they would sleep. They all showed up at 9 aye em on their Saturday to serve someone else. This teacher made a way for them, and then she stood beside them while they did it.
This is the step that matters. This is the piece that’s missing. The adults tell the kids do this thing. Be this way. Act like this. Say all that. But we sit on the sidelines or behind our screens or with our noses in all the wrong corners caught up in a way that negates our best intentions.
It’s the standing beside the kids that matter. Does your daughter show interest in going on a mission trip-small or large, local or foreign? Go with her! Has your son mentioned it would be neat to visit an orphanage or do some work with the homeless? Plan that trip and go together. Did your kids come home psyched out about the Habitat for Humanity project nearby? Grab your tool belt and drive them.
When our kids hear that little voice or feel that gentle nudge, the best thing we can do to set ablaze that tiny speck of faith is jump in with them full force. Support that dream. Add wings to that hope. Create a way for them to chase after that. Our kids want to change the world. They just don’t even know it. And they don’t seem to have a clue what they are capable of.
You can believe we were as affected watching and working beside these kids as they were with joining in. My heart pitter pattered a smidgeon when one boy turned to his teacher and said, “Mrs. Newberry, thank you for creating this opportunity for us to serve like this. This was great.”
Yes, Mrs. Newberry. Thank you so much for raising the bar just a little higher. Thank you for laying out a new expectation in our community which helped the students raise their own level of capabilities. They didn’t know serving others could make such a difference. Thank you for letting me join in and watch my kid do this little bit in her neck of the woods.
PS Layla is weird in all her pictures. This is how she prefers to torment me. This is as normal as it gets, people. I’ll spend my minutes being grateful she isn’t pretending to be a robot, a gang member, or boneless.
Thanks for being here to celebrate my birthday month! #shes40 I am posting everyday of October for the 31 day blogging challenge and giving you all the presents! Share a post on Facebook, and your name gets entered in to the mix for a prize- you won’t want to miss these! Share one post, you get entered into the drawing once. Share each of the 31 days, and you have 31 chances to win one of many goodies. Be sure to tag me in the post, so your entry does’t get lost in the algorithm vortex. Some affiliate links may be used.
See you tomorrow,