Thursday, December 06, 2007

You're accepted when you're needed

Last night i watched Kid Nation for the first time. I only caught the second half of the episode, but it was pretty interesting. The kids had to work together to complete challenges, and it was a lot like survivor except there were no alliances being forged because no one was getting voted off. Instead, the climax of the show was watching the council of older kids chose one town member to honor with a real (large and solid) gold star.

Anyway, the part i wanted to blog about was a comment one kid made at the end of the episode. Apparently they're nearing the end of the experiment, and all the kids were sitting around a campfire talking about their experiences so far. One boy made the statement that "I was never accepted before i came here." I haven't seen enough of the show to know for sure, but it seems like what has happened is that the producers have created an environment of real competition (not just grading kids on their performance, but providing real rewards when they succeed and withholding them when they don't), along with real teamwork (the kids have to figure out how to work together to win the rewards), which means: every kid is needed. Which means: every kid has a chance to earn acceptance by having a good attitude and working hard to help.

I think needing someone is one of the most natural forms of acceptance we have. It's not forced, so it's not hard to show or to receive. All of us will put up with a lot more of what we don't like in a person when we need that person, because then we recognize their value. All of this makes me think that part of what we lack in churches and youth groups is that we don't need each other enough. Among adults - that's probably because we don't have big enough goals that we're trying to reach together, so we really don't find ourselves needing each other. In youth ministries (like mine) i suspect the problem is that we don't depend on our teens enough. We don't give them enough responsibility in carrying out Christ's mission, and we don't hold them accountable for their work. When we don't need them and they don't need each other, its a lot harder for us to truly accept each other, because we don't appreciate each other's value.

Teens can be unreliable, but they can tell where they're needed and where they aren't - and the people who need them get their greatest commitment and effort. Not to mention, isn't part of discipleship helping people to understand that they are needed in God's kingdom, and that we all (including God) are depending on them to help with its work?

P.S. There's an excellent article about trusting God and how it relates to trusting our teenagers in this month's e-newsletter from NNYM.

No comments: