Joe: “Did you know I have a Girl Scout award?”
Girl Scout: “Whaaat?” (complete with a side glance and a little head shake)
Joe: “Because I helped start two Girl Scout troops.”
Girl Scout: “Reeeealy?” (with another doubting head shake)
It was an amusing little exchange that began last Sunday as I was visiting with one of our young moms and her daughter in our rotunda. In the course of our conversation the mom began telling me what a natural salesperson her daughter is as evidenced by her success moving boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in their neighborhood. I enthusiastically complimented our young member and praised the work of the organization. Then, mostly just for fun, I threw in the quirky anecdote about how my long-standing support of the Girl Scouts had earned me a lapel pin.
But tossing in the anecdote wasn’t solely for the bemused reaction of our young member. Encoded in that exchange was a clear message that I valued her and her affiliation with a quality organization and her family’s involvement and support of that association. In a somewhat unconventional but memorable manner I communicated that I believe in her and her organization way beyond my $5 investment in a box of (delicious) thin mints.
The Boy Scouts are with us this coming weekend as we celebrate Scout Sunday. Same deal here: I don’t just buy a wreath (or whatever they may be selling). I always make it a point to strike up a brief conversation with the young man and the parents or leaders so as to hear about what they are doing and enjoying and learning.
Throughout the year we are all presented with many informal (and golden!) opportunities to acknowledge and encourage and thank our young people. Think about all of our middle and high school students we pass in the halls on Sunday. Or those who greet us or hand us the offering plate in worship. The ones who serve alongside us during Hartman Elementary School’s after school sports leagues (it’s basketball season right now). Our teammates during Grace At Work (save-the-date, Apr. 22).
We know from all kinds of studies that our children and teens thrive when they are valued and included and empowered. And while a “Reeeealy?” isn’t a very scientific measurement, I’m pretty sure it is a good indication of progress in the right direction for the student and for our community.