Keith Tusing October 26, 2011 4

by Jeremy Mavis

So some boys were wrestling, at least that what I was told when one of my ministry leaders brought a crew of 4 boys over to me during the singing portion of our after school program. She had asked them to stop twice and they weren’t obeying. Now it was my turn. I sent the boys around the corner to sit on a couple of benches outside of our program room.

About one minute later I came around the corner to have a chat with these wrestlers:

“Am I a guy or a girl?” I asked them. Puzzled, they all answered in unison: “A guy.”

Next question: “Do I like wrestling or do I not like wrestling?” Immediately they all answered: “You don’t like wrestling.”

I started over. “Am I a guy or a girl?” “A guy.” “Do I like wrestling or do I not like wrestling?” “You don’t like wrestling.”

I started over again. “Am I a guy or a girl?” This one was obvious, they thought: “A guy.” “Do I like wrestling or do I not like wrestling?” This is the one they were the most puzzled with, but were sure they were right: “You don’t like wrestling.”

With a huge verbal cue, I gave them a big sigh… and started over one last time (I hoped). “Am I a guy or a girl?” They had to have this one right: “A guy.” “Do I like wrestling or do I not like wrestling?” I think they probably thought they had nothing to lose: “You DO like wrestling.”

“YES!” I exclaimed. “I love wrestling!” They looked both shocked and relieved! “I wrestle with my two girls all the time at home. I wrestled with my brother growing up everywhere in and out of the house (much to my mother’s chagrin!). I love to wrestle.” I think they were thinking they were about to get off the hook, until I asked:

“Why do think you are in trouble at the moment for wrestling?” They didn’t know. I told them: “Because this isn’t the appropriate time to wrestle.”

And light bulbs went off in their minds. I could see it in their eyes. Each of those 4 boys got the concept and I didn’t have to yell at them for wrestling (like they would normally expect from an adult). I told them in a 1-2 minute lecture (after the question and answer dialogue) that they don’t wrestle in their class at school because it’s not appropriate and they can’t wrestle at church because it’s not appropriate either. At home (or outside their home as my Mom would say), with their parent’s permission, they can wrestle all they want.

Discipline. It’s getting the students to be responsible and own their actions instead of the leader getting mad and yelling. Kids are used to yelling adults. Be one that doesn’t yell, and guide them through why their behavior is inappropriate. It’s discipleship in disguise.

“And one other thing,” I said to the boys (I still had their full attention… and the attention of their hearts), “the next time another leader tells you to stop what you are doing… I expect you to listen.”

“We will,” they all said. And I know they won’t be perfect from that moment on. But I do know that they won’t soon forget that conversation. I guarantee, that if you yell often a lot, chances are they aren’t listening and don’t care.

Let’s raise and disciple kids to care.


  1. Julie Tusing October 26, 2011 at 9:30 am - Reply

    I love this!!! We have 6 children and sometimes its hard to forget not to yell. But I would rather be proactive and not reactive.

  2. Jeremy Mavis October 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    I know… I find it easier to NOT yell at church while in ministry than I do at home with my own kids. I mean, sometimes the behavior at various ministry functions can be frustrating, but I’m in discipleship mode (and I’ve usually only got a couple of hours to get through!). However, when I’m home, my guard is down and I’m not in discipleship mode with my kids sometimes and it is really easy to just yell instead of teach and train!

  3. Belinda Mace October 31, 2011 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Thanks Jeremy for the reminder!

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