I just received a card from the parents of a boy in my church.
The boy’s name is Lance.
Two and a half years ago when I met Lance, he was the ring leader
in a plot to ruin the children’s church. He was bored, restless,
and very creative. It was obvious to me from the beginning that
this boy was a child of higher intelligence and a leader of others.
So I began to pay attention to him before he caused big
For two years after meeting Lance, he tested me and my staff. I
set up boundaries for two years. And he climbed over them for two
Perhaps you have a child like this in your church right now. I’ve
always had one. I think it’s because I was one. You know-the
spiritual law of sowing and reaping. I sowed distress and rebellion
and frustration on every teacher I met in kindergarten through
sixth grade. Now that I’m a teacher of children, I’m reaping what I
For two years, I kept reminding Lance of who he was. I referred to
him at every opportunity as “Lance, leader of men.” This is a
method I learned from my high school social studies teacher. Mrs.
Gast saw that I was a class clown and a leader of those around me.
She placed me in the middle of top students and each day in class
announced, “Richard, you could do so well if you would only apply
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Mrs. Gast believed in me. She could’ve corrected and lectured, but
she didn’t. I began to respond to her positive message. I applied
myself and became a better student.
Last summer God got a hold of Lance. He’s now a sixth grader.
Lance, leader of men, is one of the most positive guys you’ll ever
pray to have in your children’s church. His parents wrote to me
thanking me for my influence in helping Lance turn toward
In Proverbs 16:21, God says, “The wise in heart are called
discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” Pleasant words
promote instruction. Modern educators call this concept positive
The concept is as old as man. Every child wants some adult to see
the potential in him. Every child desires and deserves recognition
and acceptance. Every child must be given God’s unconditional
That’s what ministry to kids is all about. Loving the unlovable,
helping the hurting, and seeing in them what often only God sees.
Give your “Lances” a vision of themselves that’ll lead to eternal
Dick Gruber is a children’s pastor in Minnesota.