In our church, like many other churches we have a ministry named Awana. It is a time when kids can gather and spend time studying the bible, playing sports, and hanging out with friends and leaders. When I first became involved in the ministry I had an idea of how I wanted to lead my team. Thinking back on myself as a kid, I knew that I was the type of person who never really learned much from people lecturing or disciplining me, but instead I would find people who I looked up to or viewed as role models, and paid attention to what they did and learned from them. I would pay attention to them to see how they acted in certain situations and around other people, and then would adopt that for myself. Most of the time I would pick people who were hard working leaders, happy, kind, and stood out from the average. I also did everything I could to not become like the people that I did not look up to.
So my goal in serving in Awana was to lead our team in a way that the kids would see me as someone they would want to look up to as a positive role model; and hopefully have a lasting impact on them. As I started serving in Awana I always tried my best to go out of my comfort zone and to make it both interesting and engaging. I sought a balance between being disciplined and being able to have some fun with them. I rewarded them for good behavior and tried my best to motivate all the kids as they played games. Another main thing was that I always tried to be happy and in a good mood, because that is something that I knew the kids paid attention to.
As time went on my strategy continued, but I completely forgot about my initial thoughts about standing out and working to impact lives by being someone the kids looked up to.
Then this year, as we started the year again, I saw a kid who was on my team from a previous year come back to Awana as a team helper for sports. I thought that was awesome, but paid no attention to him because I needed pay attention to my team. Then, as we were playing sports, and I was trying to motivate my team, I looked over and started noticing that this kid, who once was on my team was using all of the same techniques and rules that I used when I was the leader of his team. He was coming up and encouraging the kids that didn’t do so well in the games, he was making sure all of the kids were using perfect behavior and rewarded them by letting them play based on behavior, and not on their abilities to win the games, and actually sticking to it even if it meant that some people would get mad at him. Most of all he kept everyone involved by motivating them, and creating a team environment in a similar way that I did.
That day at Awana really made me think about how we affect people’s lives. It seems like a lot of years have passed from when I was a kid who was looking up to certain people. Much has changed with regards to our environment and our values, but it was interesting to see that after all of these years, the best way to influence a kid’s life is not by force and punishment, or buying them things, but by living the kind of life that will attract their attention and spark an interest in them to live like you. This experience made a big impact in my life, and now with that in mind I try to pay attention to how I live, talk, and act because I know that there could be someone around me who is looking up to me and soaking in what they are hearing and seeing from me. My hope is that we all are aware of that and live our daily lives remembering that if we don’t attract and influence the next generation through our daily living, that someone else will