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The Four-Window Model

Dan Webster

OBSERVATION:

The power of seeing a child

Observation is the first window we peer through as we help kids discover who they are. Adults who leverage the Observation window understand that there's a story unfolding right before their eyes in the lives of the kids they love. Because of that, they're willing to slow down enough to "see" it. It's as simple as just paying attention. It's looking away from yourself and other distractions and focusing on the child. It's watching when the child plays, studies, interacts, and reacts. Observation involves the work of attentively watching the one we care for. It's studying a child as he or she grows up and recording glimpses of what we see at any given moment along the way. Observation communicates both interest and concern. There's a verse of Scripture from the Old Testament that says, "Our ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he watches all our paths" (Proverbs 5:21). Inherent in God's loving nature is that he "sees" his creation. God pays attention to those he loves. By reflecting this aspect of God's heart, we communicate to children that they have value and are worth our attention and time.

EXPLORATION:

The power of inspiring kids to learn about themselves

The Exploration window is about kids exploring life and discovering themselves along the way. KidUnique adults learn how to look through the Exploration window by developing an explorer's heart. Explorers are restless to discover. Explorers encourage new adventures and love to see kids reach for new opportunities. Adults with an explorer's heart push onto new ground, understanding on ever-deeper levels the terrain of a kid's life. As they do, they inspire kids to value the exploration process. The Apostle Paul wanted the child he loved to take personal exploration seriously. He instructed young Timothy to "pay close attention to yourself" (1 Timothy 4:16). When Paul said that, he wasn't telling Timothy to be selfish or self-absorbed. He was reminding Timothy that paying close attention to yourself is useful; it will tell you things about yourself you need to know. Paul wanted Timothy to be aware of the non-stop source of data, information, and insight that was right in front of him in the form of his reactions to life. The same is true for us. As the kids we love bump into life, we pay attention. As they do new things and discover they're good at some and not so good at others, we pay attention. Exploration inspires kids to learn about themselves by trying new opportunities and adventures. Along the way, we discuss and identify kids' interests and strengths.

AFFIRMATION:

The power of telling children what's right with them

The Affi rmation window is perhaps the most important: It has the potential to unleash a child's gifts upon the world and unlock their God-given extraordinary. We fuel kids' future success through affirmation. Few things are as life affecting as affirmation. Affirmation is telling a child what's right with him or her. Affirmation is being a big enough person and having a strong enough love to see beyond what's wrong and point out what's right. Jesus did this. He went out of his way to convince his followers they had value and could become difference makers in the world: "I will make you fi shers of men" (Mark 1:17); "You are my friends" (John 15:15). These are wonderfully affirming statements that had to fill the disciples' hearts. A child will feel the warmth of your friendship, too, and affirmation will feed the child's heart. Affirmation isn't costly-but it's worth its weight in gold.

REVELATION:

The power of listening to God on the child's behalf

The core of a discovery rich relationship is spiritual in nature. From the day a child is conceived there's far more going on than meets the eye. We believe that God made these children and knows them better and loves them more deeply than we ever could. And we believe that God wants to help as we travel on this journey together. We also understand that kids ultimately must ask God for his will concerning their lives. It's up to us to do everything we can to help identify and call out what God has put into a child, but it's up to them to seek him, too. Learning to look through the Revelation window is about accessing God's assistance with this task. It begins with me saying to God, "I need your help. I can't do this alone." King David had a moment of revelation as to whom God had made him to be. In Psalm 139:14, David says, "I will give  thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well." King David's soul knew who he was and what God's will was for his life; his soul knew it "very well." We long for our kids to know that, too. The Revelation window encompasses the powerful longing that lives within each of us.

Dan Webster is the author of KidUnique (book and video workshop, both produced by Group). He's mentored hundreds of children throughout the years. Enjoy a free sample chapter of KidUnique.

This article is excerpted from Children's Ministry Magazine. Try an issue for FREE and see what you're missing!

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