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Depriving Students of Opportunities for Growth

One of the things I really enjoy about this place of service is the opportunity to build a team. I love seeing how God has gifted people and how those gifts can fit together in a way that makes everyone better.

This means I have been involved in more interviews than I can count. Most interviews start the same. There are some pleasantries, but usually there is a nervousness that accompanies this strange dance of trying to figure each other out.

Over the years, I have discovered that if we can just keep the person talking, more specifically about something that is of interest to the candidate, they relax and we can get to know each other a little bit better. I love that moment - that very moment when tensions ease, shoulders relax, and the candidate begins to open up.

Recently, I participated with our rhetoric school students in a series of mock interviews. These interviews were designed to give students the necessary experience and confidence to excel when they begin college admittance interviews.

As we began, the dynamic was the same - you have the same pleasantries and the same nervous exchanges; however, we eventually reached the same state of relaxation where I felt like I got to know them all a little bit better.

I expected all of that, but what I did not expect was when it happened. More often than not, our students’ eyes widened because they spoke faster as they answered a couple of important questions.

What was your greatest failure or struggle? What did you learn from this experience?

When asked, the students could explain, often in great detail, both the nature of their struggles and the profound effect it had on them. Time after time they shared how feelings of inadequacy drove them to work harder to overcome, which eventually helped them become better people. Over and over they reminded us that the lessons learned during the struggle are the lessons that stuck most deeply. These were also the stories our students could share most freely and with a great sense of satisfaction that only comes when an obstacle is overcome.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, the Bible tells us in places like James 1 that healthy struggle is a part of growth.

A few years ago, the staff watched a training video reminding us of this very lesson as it related to our students. In it, the speaker gave scripture reference after scripture reference giving a multitude of stories from his very successful counseling practice, all designed to remind us that kids grow through developmentally appropriate healthy struggles. It is God’s design for their growth.

If we are being honest, we all know that’s true. The deepest lessons in life are often learned during the hardest times. And yet, even with this knowledge, we spend most of our time avoiding hard things.

I know that’s true for me. It seems like I spend so much time trying to make things easier for my kids than they were for me. (And in hindsight I can see I had it pretty easy.)

I think that’s a good and right impulse, but we can take it too far, for if we are always sheltering our children from hard things, we might be depriving them an opportunity to grow deep and strong.

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