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Heart Matters: Lance, Leader of Men

Dick Gruber

I just received a card from the parents of a boy in my church. The boy's name is Lance.

Two and a half years ago when I met Lance, he was the ring leader in a plot to ruin the children's church. He was bored, restless, and very creative. It was obvious to me from the beginning that this boy was a child of higher intelligence and a leader of others. So I began to pay attention to him before he caused big problems.

For two years after meeting Lance, he tested me and my staff. I set up boundaries for two years. And he climbed over them for two years.

Perhaps you have a child like this in your church right now. I've always had one. I think it's because I was one. You know-the spiritual law of sowing and reaping. I sowed distress and rebellion and frustration on every teacher I met in kindergarten through sixth grade. Now that I'm a teacher of children, I'm reaping what I sowed.

For two years, I kept reminding Lance of who he was. I referred to him at every opportunity as "Lance, leader of men." This is a method I learned from my high school social studies teacher. Mrs. Gast saw that I was a class clown and a leader of those around me. She placed me in the middle of top students and each day in class announced, "Richard, you could do so well if you would only apply yourself."

Mrs. Gast believed in me. She could've corrected and lectured, but she didn't. I began to respond to her positive message. I applied myself and became a better student.

Last summer God got a hold of Lance. He's now a sixth grader. Lance, leader of men, is one of the most positive guys you'll ever pray to have in your children's church. His parents wrote to me thanking me for my influence in helping Lance turn toward God.

In Proverbs 16:21, God says, "The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction." Pleasant words promote instruction. Modern educators call this concept positive reinforcement.

The concept is as old as man. Every child wants some adult to see the potential in him. Every child desires and deserves recognition and acceptance. Every child must be given God's unconditional love.

That's what ministry to kids is all about. Loving the unlovable, helping the hurting, and seeing in them what often only God sees. Give your "Lances" a vision of themselves that'll lead to eternal

Dick Gruber is a children's pastor in Minnesota.

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