“youthful talent, well organized and well trained, is needed in our churches. The youth will do something with their overflowing energies.”
It was a typical Sabbath in the Primary division. My assistant and I were arranging the chairs and organizing our lesson materials. I welcomed arriving children into the room. Before long I noticed Ritchie running through the door, barely missing a younger boy. Ritchie was bigger and louder than anyone else in Sabbath School. The boys would often follow his behavior, and the girls rolled their eyes and sighed whenever Ritchie was disruptive.
As expected, Ritchie started poking the boy beside him right after the opening prayer, and he kept kicking at a nearby chair during the mission story. During the lesson study he gave his best impression of a lion’s roar to go with Daniel’s dungeon prayers.
I decided to try something different and asked Ritchie if he would like to lead song service the next Sabbath. By getting him involved, I hoped he’d behave better, at least for a little while. Ritchie’s eyes widened at my question, but he didn’t hesitate. “Can I be in charge of the whole program?” he asked.
I was surprised. “Well, OK,” I hesitated, not sure if this was such a good idea after all. Ritchie and I talked about plans for next week’s Sabbath School. I promised to call him to see how his program was coming along.
When I called Ritchie on Wednesday, he had his plans already. On Sabbath morning, as I walked toward the classroom, I heard music. Was it coming from the primary room?
Yes, Ritchie was already there with a tape player going. “These are my favorite Sabbath songs,” he smiled. “I thought the kids might like them.”
Sabbath School went well that day. Everyone sang along to Ritchie’s music. He had arranged for a nature object lesson from one of our regular storytellers. His mother told the mission story, and we broke into groups for the lesson.
After Sabbath School I told Ritchie, “You are already using your talents to serve Jesus.” He grinned and said it was a lot of work, but kind of fun, too.
Ritchie didn’t volunteer to lead out again, but his behavior changed after that day. He became a leader for the younger children instead of a distraction. A few months later Ritchie moved to the Junior division. I found myself missing Ritchie’s enthusiasm, maybe even his animal sounds.
In a book called Gospel Workers, on page 211, author Ellen White suggests that “youthful talent, well organized and well trained, is needed in our churches. The youth will do something with their overflowing energies.”
Ritchie is now all grown up. Some time ago I saw him receive his college degree with the same excitement he showed years earlier in Sabbath School. I was happy that he had used his leadership gifts for Jesus as a boy and later as a young man. And I was glad I gave him a chance all those years before.
- Make a list of what your gifts are. Are you skilled in music, sports, art, socializing?
- Now make a list of ways you might use those gifts to contribute to the church, school, your friend groups, and your neighborhood.
- Now make another list of how you will go about putting a plan into action.
- Last, tell us about it! Email email@example.com and tell us what you are going to do, or have done and how it went!
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15, NIV