This past weekend we had our spring retreat with the youth ministries from the Tenth and Broad COC in Wichita Falls and the East Point COC in Wichita, KS. We met up at Pettijohn Springs Christian Camp in southern OK. This was a special weekend because we were able to bring in Benny and Nikki Nowell of the Sevens ministry in Boulder, CO. These three ministries coming together with the purpose of learning more about the love of the Father excited me. What was even more exciting is that I was able to bring 26 high school students, by far the most we have ever brought on a HS only retreat.
Yet this weekend was extremely difficult for me when it came to my group. I have been used to having pretty clean cut church kids who do what they are supposed to do and ones that you don't have to worry too much about. We have a large amount of those kiddos in our group yet we have a small but growing segment of teens who are rough, immature, and pretty hard to deal with. It seemed like this minority of the group really made it tough on the rest of the group.
What was striking to me about this group was that these kids (the difficult ones) are the ones that need to most love and attention yet will demand the most discipline. I am a horrible disciplinarian! What tends to happen is that I will let a lot of things slide then come down super hard on the kids when they have gone too far. I have never had a group of kids that I have to be constantly on the lookout for kids doing what they aren't supposed to do. A big part of me wants to tell them not to come. That is horrible, but it is how I feel sometimes.
I tend to heap a lot of this on me because I don't exactly know how to deal with kids who are perpetually "on the bad list". It would be easier to just love them and accept them as they are, but they become a drain on everyone else if their behavior is left unchecked. These are the things I have struggled with, especially how to keep the "balance" of discipline and love, expectation and acceptance.
I have much more to say about this so I will post a "part 2" soon. Post your thoughts if you would and we will keep the discussion going.