Here's a story from a friend of mine, Rick Ferrell, from a youth mission trip sponsored by his Church.
Rick had a kid in his group who left home for the first time with a number of debilitating fears. He feared spiders, exposure to the sun, groups of people, just to name a few. This young man suffered a predictable melt down when he was asked to bed down in a corner with a menacing looking spider. Rick suggested that he sleep between a group of other members of the mission group to be safe. Switching from the fear of the spider to the fear of the unknown group, the youth approached the group with a great deal of anxiety.
Rick guided the young man to a group of boys he knew. Rick explained the situation with as few words as possible to his veterans of previous mission trips.
One of the veterans immediately relayed how his first mission trip was a terrifying experience until he was helped by someone else in the group. The boys nodded in agreement - they were all scared on their first trip. They placed the sleeping bag of their new friend in the middle of the group and formed a circle around him to protect him from the spiders. They all slept soundly.
At the end of a hot, grueling week of labor, the kids came together to share their experiences. When given the opportunity to speak, the anxiety ridden youth told the group, "At the beginning of the week I couldn't imagine being here - at the end of the week, there is no place I would rather be."
The young men who created a space for that kid to grow are true leaders. Let your kids know it's OK to be afraid and it's OK to help someone else when they are afraid.
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