I mean, who's good really? None of us, right?
But I think you know what I mean.
There's some kids who were raised in a Christian home, have been in the nursery, Jr. Church, and on into the youth group all their lives, they volunteer faithfully, they help clean up after events, they're just always there. And they're not faking it. No honest, not faking it at all.
First let me tell you - I feel the 'good kids syndrome' deeply. I am in no way perfect, but at times I've been accused of it. And no, for the most part I wasn't faking it either. (but that's a whole 'nother post so we won't go there...yet...just wait for it though.)
I'm talking about the kids that honestly want to do what's right. Kids that want to serve God, because they love God.
In your honorable attempts to minister to those hurting, often rebellious kids, don't forget the ones that are sitting quietly in their seats, hands folded, just waiting to be picked for the quiet seat prize. You can't ignore the ones that are constantly giving you problems - I understand. They need to be rewarded when they have a good day. But please, let the good ones get that prize sometimes, too.
The ones that don't always seem to need the incentive to do right.
You know, I can hear it in my head now .... "Well, we're supposed to be willing to serve God without rewards."
Yes, true, but how good are you at that as an adult even? Honestly. I need rewards still. God knows we need rewards - He promises them to us because He knows we need the incentive. How much more do little kids need them still?
But my plea is about more than just a little quiet seat prize. It goes deeper.
This is burdening my heart right now. I see kids growing up in church, being told to keep their noses clean because that's what God wants. And guess what - that's what many of them do. Then what do we do? We ignore them in favor of the one who went astray, and then has come back. We give the opportunity to minister to those who have done things, then repented and come back to God. (Please, please don't mistake my words here - I love the prodigals as much as you do, I've worked with many and love them as part of my own family - but this particular post isn't about them this time, so bear with me, k?)
Those kids ought to be given those opportunities, yes.
But the ones that never went astray ought to get some attention, too. These are kids just waiting to be used. They're waiting for some word of encouragement that their faithfulness meant something. To you. Yes, we know it means something to God, but sometimes we all need encouragement from someone with 'skin on,' right?
What use is it to preach that we ought to stay right with God, if we then ignore the kids that are staying right with God?
Ultimately this is a plea for balance. I believe God is a God of balance. Imbalance in either direction is not His ideal way. So I'm not saying ignore one group over another. I'm saying lavish attention on the prodigals, the rebels, the ones constantly demanding your attention through constant correction - then at the same time lavish attention on the quiet ones, the ones sitting and waiting for a favorable eye to be turned upon them, the ones doing what's right because it's right.
So please, next time you're looking around at the kids under your teaching, remember there are both types of kids sitting there. And both types need you equally.
The quiet ones might not seem as urgent to you, but believe me, ignoring them has far-reaching consequences.
These kids grow up into adults who wonder why they're overlooked, set aside in favor of someone with a more... shall we say 'sensational'... testimony. They begin to wonder what their place is in the church, and what all this has been for if it won't help other people around them. They're even sometimes told they can't minister because they've never experienced going off and being a prodigal son. This causes huge frustration, disappointment, and ultimately despair of ever being used - because they 'can't minister', but they can't go off and be a prodigal either because they truly want to do what's right for God. It becomes a vicious cycle then - they get discouraged so they just do what it takes to get by in church...living right, doing what they're told, but no longer willing to go the extra mile. Then their leaders lose any confidence they had in them, and they wind up relegated to the 'always willing to do clean-up' category, but nothing more then that.
What are they left with?
You know, in all honesty, I think this is where much of the ‘mossy-backed-Christian’ syndrome comes from. It’s a vicious cycle, and it needs to be broken.