As many kids step back into a physical building for school this year, one thing they will desperately need is confidence. They’ve had a year of seeing some really hard stuff in the world, including adults who may not always have handled fear in constructive ways.
All of this can dent a kid’s confidence. However, if we take some intentional steps to help kids learn to see themselves the way God sees them, we can help them build up real confidence that will carry them throughout their lives.
So, just how does God see them? What does He want us—adult and kid—to discover about ourselves?
Helping Grow Confidence in Kids Through Spiritual Truths
God wants us to know that we are known, we belong, we’re forgiven, we can change, and we can make a difference.
As children’s ministry leaders, how can we teach these truths to kids in a way that will penetrate through childhood self-doubt? Not to mention all the understandable fear and anxiety of living through a pandemic? Truthfully, there are several practical steps we can take to impress these spiritual truths into the hearts of our kids.
1. You are known.
Depending on the size of your children’s ministry, you may not know your kids intimately. But each child can be known by someone. Lean into your small group leaders to really get to know the kids in their group beyond Sunday mornings. Challenge them to attend baseball games and school plays and host occasional events for their group.
Also, encourage all of your children’s ministry staff to learn the names of the kids in your ministry. It will do wonders for kids’ confidence at school on Monday if they walk through the doors on Sunday and feel known. This small step can build confidence in kids.
2. You belong.
Think about your storytellers, small group leaders, and large group communicators in your kids ministry. When your kids look at these volunteers, do they see people that look like them? Representation matters for making kids feel that they belong. Make sure your volunteers are at least as diverse as your kids are. Welcome people of different races, ethnicities, abilities, and both sexes to be a part of your ministry to help kids feel like they belong.
In addition, pay attention to how you organize groups for games. For example, mix up ages and abilities so that you’re offering all kids an opportunity to lead and an opportunity to follow. Not every child will want to lead outright, but if you give each child the chance to be an important part of a team, you’ll give them a sense of belonging. This will lead to confidence.
3. You are forgiven.
Of course, it’s key to share the truth that Jesus died to take the punishment for our sin and then came back to life. Because of that, we can be forgiven and spend eternity with God. But we will never outgrow our need for the Gospel. We need constant reminders that we have been made right with God, and we do not need to earn our forgiveness or our worthiness. Consequently, strive to create a culture of grace within your ministry. Give kids a chance to mess up and then be welcomed back. What better way for kids to grow confidence in who God made them to be than to know they are forgiven?
4. You can change.
Jesus’ forgiveness moves us toward true repentance. It encourages us to change our ways, like we see in the story of Zacchaeus and others in the Bible. When kids understand that they can change, they’ll be able to find confidence to step into life-giving and lasting patterns of behavior. They’ll discover that they can truly change from the inside out.
To partner with parents on this idea, here are some things you can suggest to help their child build confidence:
- give their kids responsibilities (and chances to succeed and fail)
- set small goals for kids that will give them feelings of accomplishment as they work to embrace positive change
- encourage their kids often as they see them taking steps to follow after Jesus
5. You can make a difference.
Our family volunteers with a nonprofit that allows kids to volunteer. Not only that, but they consider kids the most important volunteers on the team. I can’t tell you the confidence that has grown in my kids as they serve year after year with this organization.
Oftentimes, kids grow up believing that they can’t really make a difference in the world until they’re older. By finding ways for the kids in your ministry to volunteer, you give them the chance to see how they can make a difference now.
This might look like bringing kids up on stage to help demonstrate dance moves. It might mean assigning older kids to be “big brother/sister” to a younger child in your ministry. Perhaps it will look like enlisting volunteers with rotating responsibilities, like greeting families at the door or checking kids in. You can even think outside of your ministry by organizing service projects and encouraging small groups to volunteer together.
By taking intentional steps to instill these truths into kids’ hearts, you can help them to see themselves as God does. You can help them walk confidently as they follow Jesus—no matter which door they’re walking through.
Want additional ideas for building confidence in kids? Check out the interactive devotional for kids called Press Play: A Kid’s Devotional to Build Confidence that Lasts. Purchase it from the Orange store and receive two bonuses to share with parents!
- The Press Play Parent Guide (a PDF overview of the 8 principles from Press Play, reflection questions for parents, and convo-starter activities)
- A Digital Pack of Confidence Cards (16 printable cards with fill-in-the-blank prompts for parents to give kids)