What was I thinking?

“What grade will you be working with?”

This innocent question from my mom was one I had not yet processed through. When my friend, Katie, asked whether I would consider working with one of the guys groups in our youth ministry at church, I had failed to gather all of the pertinent details before committing to the school year.

“Hopefully one of the older groups,” I replied. The “older groups” seemed so much more relate-able to me, talking about high school challenges and college choices. Having been around the church a smidgen, I’ve worked in some capacity with almost every age group below mine: college students, high school, directing VBS for the younguns. I probably even filled in for someone in the nursery at some point. But through all of these activities and serving as a substitute teacher whilst in college (another post for another day), I actively tried to avoid one special group of the human species: middle school students.

So naturally, I was assigned to seventh grade boys. As surely as I write this, the Lord is testing me.

I mean no disrespect to any current or former middle schooler who may be reading this. It’s really nothing personal. But that time in life is one I look back on with less than fond memories. To classify those years as “transitional” does a great disservice to all the other available adjectives. I’ve never met a single person who liked their middle school experience. And if I did, I’m not sure I could trust them.

I’ve always thought that middle school teachers and volunteers would have a special place in heaven for all of their hard work, mainly because, quite frankly, middle school is a special kind of hell.

Now with several weeks behind us, I must admit that I’m enjoying the challenge of leading 7th grade guys. But it is, indeed, a challenge. Not because they’re not good kids–they are. But these guys speak a different language than I do. I don’t even know what a Minecraft is. Is it something on cable television? I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t walk to the student center on Sunday mornings with a hint of fear and trepidation.Thankfully, I don’t have to break my “no-Facebook-friendships-with-minors” rule because these children don’t even have Facebook. Bless them.

The saving grace in all of this is that my co-leader, Michael, has a son in 6th grade and another one in 8th grade. As one of my favorite bloggers would say: “Hands to the heavens!” Here’s to hoping that he can translate where I fall short.

But for all of my efforts, I feel I may be doing more learning than teaching this year when all is said and done. And I’m OK with that.

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7 thoughts on “What was I thinking?

  1. Love it! My husband “volunteered” us once to teach junior high Sunday school. I went to the first class with fear and trembling—walked in to see two girls sitting o n top of cabinets, and several others looking like they were going to hurl on the spot at the sight of us. —Have fun—they’re lucky to have you.

  2. Grand. I worked with Jr High alongside Brian (not married at the time…) and well, yeah I hear you. Funny thing-I bought him a Minecraft set of Lego for his birthday tomorrow.

  3. Cross-cultural experiences abound, even in midst of everything that is familiar. I leave you with this thought – it was in middle school that I fully and finally (as in no looking back, ever) committed my life to Christ AND started on the trajectory that led me to Wycliffe, PNG, Arop village… and you know the rest of that story well. Maybe because middle school is such a hellish place, true grace and mercy are that much more visible.

  4. I actually enjoyed my middle school years. You should download Minecraft. As much as you loved Legos growing up, you’d enjoy it.

  5. Pingback: Prone to ramble: An unintended hiatus | Prone to wander

  6. Pingback: Prone to learn: 5 lessons from a weekend with 7th grade boys | Prone to wander

  7. Pingback: Prone to reflect: A year on the list | Prone to wander

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