Warning: Your Life Speaks Louder Your Words

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I’ll admit that I groaned as we drove to the conference.  You know the kind of grumble which smiles on the outside?
Yes, that kind.
It was way too early for one thing.  For another, I had taken the day off of work to come.  Days off can be hard to come by.  Though I have always been an advocate for continual learning, we’ve been to these trainings before.   Somehow we I occasionally think that I know more than I do.
In any event, I nestled into the chair with a cup of coffee in hand for the long haul.  This seminar was going to be six hours long.  Better make the best of it.  Did I mention that I had the worst attitude ever?  I bet you I rivaled some of your students.  Oh dear.
So the seminar begins and we are welcomed in prayer.  And it isn’t two minutes in before I know that I need to be there.  I am embarrassed and saddened by my own quiet grumblings.  I am thinking of our students now instead of myself; our students who deeply need to hear the truth about Christ, presented in a way that they can understand.  One can never outgrow the need for more learning.
There were many practical components of the one day conference, which was entitled “Speaking to Teenagers,” taught by youth ministry veterans Duffy Robbins and Doug Fields.  Many of the suggestions that were presented were easily transferable to children’s ministry as well.  I found it extremely helpful on multiple levels, not to mention absolutely hilarious.  Those two together are a riot!
I particularly enjoyed a section that they covered entitled, “Ethos:  Who You Are Speaks Louder Than What You Say.”  Duffy and Doug discussed the necessity for competence, caring, and character when speaking to teenagers (or, in our case children).  Here were the notes I took in the session:
When Speaking to Children….
Demonstrate Competence:

  1. Know your stuff (study and prepare)
  2. Be organized
  3. Practice speaking beforehand , measuring pace and delivery
  4. Be aware of your dress

Demonstrate Caring:

  1. Use student names in illustrations, in referencing common memories, or any way you can
  2. Use humor
  3. Be sensitive and wise in your speech
  4. Draw references to what you have in common with your students
  5. Speak in the first person plural when using rebuke, correction, and warning
  6. Stand as close as possible to the group and at the same level, if possible
  7. Be conversational

Demonstrate Character:

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. “ 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

There is no doubt, that as children’s ministry workers, who we are is always more important than what we say.  1 John 3:18 challenges us to, “Not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.”
Sure we can do this by demonstrating competence, caring, and character in our lessons, but the challenge arises when we transfer that speech into our day to day lives.   For me, that will mean less grumbling, more humility, and plenty more seminars in fold up chairs.  I’ve sure got a lot to learn.
What are you learning lately?  Any children’s ministry conferences or trainings that you would particularly recommend? Click here to leave a comment.

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