All they do is text each other. They don’t know how to have face-to-face conversations. Before cell phones, people had to actually talk to each other. Nowadays kids would rather sit in front of a screen, their thumbs deftly punching out LOL and K and 🙂
Now that we’ve put kids in their place, take a look at this video:
Sociologist George Mead states that our sense of self is shaped by our interactions with each other. In other words, you shape your understanding of who you are based on how you interpret the way people interact with you. So if most of the people you interact with treat you with respect, awe and deference, you will see yourself as someone with authority and act accordingly. On the flip side, if most people around you gaze at you suspiciously, avoid speaking with you and single you out for criticism, you will see your self as an outsider. Mead called this type of interaction labeling. A person or group will eventually embody the labels placed on them if those labels are persistently applied over time by other people and groups in power.
So why the sociology lesson?
Those of us in ministry leadership wield a great deal of power over the people in our ministries whether we think so or not. This is especially true when it comes to children’s and youth ministry leaders. The labels we place on kids and students have power over them. We reproduce those labels amongst other adults we have influence over: parents, volunteer leaders, other adults at the churches we minister in… Those labels, in turn, are reinforced by those adults, influencing how we all view and interpret the actions of kids and students… Eventually, those labels influence how kids and students view themselves, and many of them begin to embody those labels. Other kids and students, though, fight against those labels, and it is our job, as those in positions of influence and authority, to stand alongside the kids and students we work with as allies and advocates. It is our job as people in positions of power in our ministries to expose the negative labels we’ve placed on kids. Once we do that we can demolish the perceived “generation gaps” we’ve constructed over time with negative labels.
What do you think?
Are these labels simply descriptions of the reality of kids and students?
Or have we created self-fulfilling prophecies of who kids and students are?
What are some negative labels you’ve placed on kids and students?
What are you doing to dispel the negative labels that are placed on kids and students?