Take a fresh look at kids who don’t
quite fit in — and the amazing gifts they bring to your
“How would you like to be a spotted elephant or a
choo-choo with square wheels on your caboose or a water pistol that
shoots jelly?” ask the residents of the Island of Misfit Toys in
Romeo Muller’s classic, Rudolph, the Red-Nosed
During their adventure, Rudolph and his friends land on this
island where the unwanted toys of the world live. King Moonracer,
the island’s ruler, searches the entire earth every night for toys
that little girls and boys don’t want. He then keeps the
“different” toys on the island until someone loves them. These toys
serenade visitors with the all-too-real song of unloved ones:
“We’re on the Island of Misfit Toys. Here we don’t want to
As those who minister to children, we all know and hurt for kids
who are misfits. But just as Santa and the other residents discover, misfits can make unique and wonderful
contributions to our lives and classrooms.
Each child is wired by God to make a unique contribution to the
world. So let’s look for the blessing each child brings to our
small group dynamics, discussions, activities, and ministries.
Perhaps you have one or two of these characters in your
Comet, the Celestial Bible
On the first day of reindeer school, Comet is the adult reindeer
who teaches the younger deer everything about flying and becoming
bucks. He’s also who decides Rudolph doesn’t measure up to the
expectations and announces, “We won’t let Rudolph join in any
Misfit: It’s often the pastor’s son, the Sunday
school superintendent’s daughter, or the home-schooled child who’s
the Bible scholar. This child’s overwhelming Bible knowledge,
coupled with a willingness to passionately share his convictions,
can be downright intimidating for the other kids — and you.
Perfect Fit: You don’t always have to be right,
so don’t worry about this child correcting the details of your
lesson once in a while. Instead, enjoy his passion for knowledge.
This child can add interesting facts to any discussion and with
your help can come up with thought-provoking questions that’ll help
other learners apply the lesson to their lives. In an era of
biblical illiteracy, allow this child to set the pace.
The Authoritarian Head Elf
It’s the elf boss who writes a new song for Santa, teaches the
other elves their parts, and then informs the tenor section that
it’s weak. He yells at Hermey, who doesn’t want to be an elf, and
he’s never satisfied with anyone’s performance.
Misfit: Every classroom seems to have one child
who fills the authoritarian role. She’s the perfect child who
really does know exactly what’s supposed to happen and when. She
just takes it too far.
Perfect Fit: The perfectionist child, if directed
correctly, will go far because she holds such lofty standards for
everyone — including herself. She’ll help your classroom stay on
track and support you when you enforce the rules (or challenge you
when you’re the transgressor). She’s a great asset for a substitute
and makes a precise time keeper to help you stay on schedule.
Santa Claus, the Class
Okay, some may take exception with calling this guy a clown, but
let’s face it. He’s a grown man who wears a full-length, bright-red
costume complete with a pointed hat, and he walks around yelling,
“Ho! Ho! Ho!” while other people are trying to sleep. Don’t you
have one of these in your ministry?
Misfit: We’ve all either been the class clown or
have known one. It’s not only this person’s insatiable need to be
the focus of your class that bugs you, it’s also that he’s truly
funny. The “clown” in your classroom has made a lifelong attempt to
be recognized for his humor, so he’s gotten pretty good at
Perfect Fit: God has a wonderful sense of humor.
(He made the hippo, remember!) And kids learn best when the
synapses in their brains fire during positive emotions. Instead of
merely putting up with this child, engage in the joy he brings to
your lesson. Have a good belly laugh and move on. Let your
classroom be one where smiles are contagious. Let the class clown
help you lighten up.