Craig Kielburger, Canadian humanitarian, first caught the world’s attention 17 years ago when he was 12 years old. Craig initially appeared on 60 Minutes in 1996 to share how the death of Iqbal Masih, a child slave speaking publicly against the oppressive conditions in a Pakistani carpet factory and who happened to be the same age as Craig, grabbed not only his attention but his heart as well. Craig began an immediate campaign to free children of slave labor that has expanded to epic proportions, spanning across the globe and encompassing every form of injustice for kids.
While we could spend our time critiquing Kielburger’s methods or his organization, Free the Children, his initial point in this recent interview is what should truly capture our focus.
His opening statement shows keen insight into kids that we may be missing. Craig begins, ”Kids are looking to get involved…they’re searching for it. Kids want to assert who they are, not just by the video games they play or the peer groups they belong to, but by the contribution they make…” to the world.
Did you catch that? Kids want to get involved…they want to make a difference. That speaks volumes to us as parents and leaders of kids. And, if we are paying attention to those kids around us, we will have to admit that we have seen that statement proven true.
So what does that mean for our trajectory in what we do with kids? Are we showing kids that they can make a difference in the lives of others right now, at their current age? Our tendency is to think that we are preparing kids to be future world influencers, while all the evidence points to the fact that kids have the desire and ability to influence right now, putting us in the position of coach, not babysitter.
With that realization, let me suggest how to begin doing the work of a coach.
- Lead intentionally – Some things can be left to chance, but not getting our kids to live purposefully for God’s glory. Your daily schedule may need to be re-prioritized to allow time for making a difference by serving—family time in God’s word, learning about areas in the world or in your community where a need exists, preparing to serve, etc.
- Listen attentively – You could probably create a great plan regarding somewhere to serve or a need to fulfill, but helping kids become world changers requires spending time listening to them to hear where God is tugging their hearts, as well as time to exercise their talents and abilities. In fact, you could probably do many of the jobs much more quickly and efficiently, but your job is to coach them, giving them the chance to shine and follow God’s lead.
- Expand gradually – The kids in your life may or may not be naturally drawn to considering helping others. A coach takes players from their current level and trains them to become the best they can be. That’s where you come in. Find ways to expand their world from one that is self-centered to one focused on caring for and serving others. Start simply and expand.
- Serve wholeheartedly – Train as a team. In training, the coach must model and demonstrate effective plays repeatedly, teaching players to maneuver and execute effectively on the field. Allow kids to listen as God calls the plays each step of the way and this can become a lifestyle of satisfaction in investing in the lives of others. Celebrate the joys together, pray as a team along the way and be quick to point out where you have seen them make an impact and listen to the ways they have been impacted.
You may find KidZ KaN for Families a great way to get started.
Let us know how you have seen kids make a difference. Hearing your stories motivates us all.
Craig Kielburger, http://www.cbsnews.com/60-minutes/