Turning Kids' Negatives into World-Changing Positives

Do you have any kids in your ministry who are stubborn?  Overbearing?  Defiant?  Won't stop talking?  Don't listen to instructions?  Influence other kids to misbehave with them?  Before you write them off, hang on a minute.  They may have the most potential to change the world for Christ.  

A recent study shows that children who break the rules and are defiant, grow up to be more successful and earn higher incomes.  The study tracked kids starting at age 8 and documented their paths for over 40 years to see how they ended up.  The kids who were stubborn grew up to be over-achievers and high-earners.  Kids who break rules and stand up to their parents and other authority figures are more willing to stand up for their own interests when they grow up.

We tend to see kids' negative behaviors as just that - a negative.  But what if we started seeing their negatives as potential positives?

What if we saw the little girl who won't stop talking as a nurse who one day will not stop talking about Jesus with her co-workers.

What if we saw the pre-teen boy who leads the other boys in his group to get in trouble as a businessman who will one day lead his corporation to raise millions of dollars for God's kingdom?

What if we saw the little boy who is climbing over his chair as a missionary who will one day climb up a mountain to share the Gospel with an unreached people group?

What if we saw the girl who stomps her feet and says "no" when asked to do something as a congresswoman who will one day say "no" to legislation that undermines the Word of God?

It would change the way we approach the children in our ministry.

God models this so well for us.  Throughout Scripture, He looked at people not just for who they were, but for who they could become through His power.  He told Gideon he would be a mighty warrior when he was anything but that at the time.  He told Moses he would stand and speak in Pharaoh's court when he couldn't speak well at the time.  He told Jeremiah he would be a leader when Jeremiah was full of self-doubt.

God can take what is perceived as a weakness and use it as a strength.  He took Saul's misplaced zeal and used Him to change the world for Christ.  He took Peter's unbridled emotions and used Him to preach with power and passion.  Think about how He has take our weaknesses and used them for His glory.

He wants to do the same for the kids in your ministry.  The child that has the most negatives probably has the most potential.  The child that is causing you the most trouble is probably the child that God wants to use in the greatest way.  The child that acts up the most is probably the child that God wants to work through to do amazing acts for the Kingdom one day. 

I heard one of the leading pastors in the country share that when he was a teenager, he stood toe-to-toe with his dad and told him he wanted nothing to do with God or the church.  Rather than pushing him away or scolding him without grace, his father lovingly guided his stubborn spirit toward God.  God has taken his stubbornness and used him to reach thousands of people for Christ.  As he has went through troubles and the ups and downs of ministry, his stubbornness has kept him from quitting or giving up.  His stubbornness has keep him striving for the vision and goals God has placed before him.  

God wants to use you to guide and help turn the negatives you see in kids' lives into positives.  Be intentional about looking for ways to do this.  If you'll do this, one day you'll be amazed that the kids who gave you the most trouble ended up making the biggest impact for God.