“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.