Teens become what they’re labeled

When I was in high school there was one particular teacher at my boarding school who had a lifelong impact in me and even the direction of my life. He used to tell me what I was, even though I wasn’t yet … but I did end up becoming.

I remember him challenging me in different ways, telling me what I already knew was true – that a lot of the teachers looked at me and didn’t take me seriously. But he saw something underneath all that, he wanted me to prove them wrong. He used to tell me I was a speaker, I was a writer, I was a leader, I was creative. He gave me these labels, and he painted a picture of who he saw me as – and I wanted to be that person. It was amazing because in him labeling me as already being there, it gave me the push to pursue it. He cast a vision that I wanted to see become reality.

In a lot of ways, I try to emulate him in that.

Wednesday night I sat with a group of ninth grade guys, filling in for their small group leader. They are an … energetic … group. But the reality is, there is a LOT going on just under the surface. I told them that I see something happening that people might miss because of the running around and the craziness – but I see it, and I’m excited by it. They are a group of guys that are committed to God. I’ve been watching and listening to them pray for each other for years, make small groups and Sunday mornings a priority – there’s a reason why they’re one of the bigger groups, they are compassionate – when one of them needs something the others are quick to help, they are servants regularly involved in the church, local service, and missions. And the reality is, there is a TON of leadership potential in that group – both in teaching, worship, serving, and through examples. So I spoke about that, and I told them that I really see them being the leaders in the youth group in the coming years if they grab on to that goal.

It was interesting to see the change in tone over the ten minutes or so we spoke about it. At first they were laughing it off, making jokes, being awkward, but when I started backing it up with examples in them that I have seen I think they started to believe me. I loved at the end they asked, ‘McNutt, are you offering us a job?’ I said something to the effect, I don’t have to offer it – you can become leaders if you continue to grow in these areas. Their response?

‘Challenge accepted.’

It was a fun night.

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