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Greg Baird

Clear Guidelines

Though kids are notorious for pushing the limits of our boundaries, they're usually just doing one of two things: First, they're trying to figure out where the boundaries are, and second, they're seeing just how serious we are about the boundaries. Providing clear guidelines for your class is important. If kids don't know what they can or can't do, how can we reasonably expect them to obey?

For example... each week, we review the guidelines, trying to put a fun spin on them. But, simply put, the guidelines we give are:

  • Pay attention -- You might miss something important!
  • Participate -- We want you to be part of the group, and what you contribute is important to us.
  • Put your hand up -- We want to hear what you have to say. It's important, but we can't hear if everyone just speaks out of turn.

Turn it Over

The single greatest tool we have that leads to instruction is the ability to turn over situations and challenges to God. Praying for your kids must be as much a part of your preparation and presentation as any other component. And prayer can dramatically affect instructional situations. Prayer also changes our hearts, increasing our patience, compassion, and understanding.

For example... I saw this dramatically illustrated early in my ministry with a boy named Adrian. Adrian was "nothing but trouble" when it came to his behavior. Of course, when I discovered what his home life was like, I understood, but that didn't help in the classroom. Nothing seemed to work. No matter what, our teachers dreaded seeing Adrian dropped off on Sunday morning.

After trying everything we thought we knew how to do, we simply prayed. The teachers and I made a covenant to pray for Adrian every day, and to ask God not only to do a work in his life, but to also do a work in ours. So we prayed, and after only two weeks, we saw a difference in Adrian's life -- something was happening!

On the third Sunday, as I cleaned up after church, Adrian quietly came in behind me and, in almost a whisper, said, "Pastor Greg, I want to say I'm sorry." Once I picked myself up off the floor and composed myself, I asked him what he wanted to apologize for. Again in a very quiet voice, he said, "For all the things I've done to hurt Jesus and for all the things I've done to hurt others." As I bit my lip to hold back the tears, I had the wonderful privilege of sharing God's forgiveness with Adrian and helping him follow Christ. I saw his life transformed. Over the next few months as part of our church family, Adrian became a leader in Sunday school.

As we seek to "discipline" the kids God has blessed us with, the real goal is to instruct them. These tools, which all of us possess and can refine with a little practice, are a good starting point.

Ain't Misbehavin'

There are reasons for what kids do. For example, kids misbehave...

Because They're Kids -- Proverbs 22:15 (NLT) says "A youngster's heart is filled with foolishness..." Enough said!

Because They Lack Clear Guidelines -- Kids need guidelines and even want them. Without boundaries, insecurity creeps in and that often leads to misbehavior.

Because They're Bored -- When we teach inappropriately (not actively or age-appropriately), kids get bored. Boredom leads to misbehavior as kids try to find something to engage their mind.

Because of Outside Issues -- I put these issues in four categories:

  • Hunger -- Some kids come to church hungry, because they either didn't eat enough or they didn't eat nutritious food before arriving.
  • Health -- Parents will often drop off kids who should be home in bed!
  • Home -- Some kids deal with so much at home that it inevitably comes out in their behavior.
  • Helplessness -- Kids often just don't know how to deal with things that happen, whether it's the death of a pet or being bullied at school. This helplessness can lead to misbehavior.

Greg Baird is a children's pastor and the director of Kids in Focus (www.kidsinfocus.org). Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are subject to change.

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