I never got to play any significant role in the many school plays that I was a part of when I grew up. I was also never picked for the lead roles in the Christmas plays my church organized. As a child and a teen, that was a huge disappointment to me and I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong.
You see, I have a photographic memory so I could learn lines faster than anyone. I’m not a fabulous singer, but I could carry a tune reasonably well and I have clear voice. I have a good sense of rhythm and I could act as well as any kid. So why wasn’t I picked?
The one reason they kept giving me was this: other kids deserve a chance as well.
Both in school and in church, they kept choosing other kids that were less extravert, less enthusiastic, less opinionated…but also less talented. One school play head-starred a girl who was incredibly shy, who never wanted the part in the first place and who sang so softly and so out of key, that the principal asked me to sing back up…backstage. He wanted to give her the opportunity to shine and as a result, I never got mine.
Because other kids deserved a chance as well.
And this is true of course, other kids did deserve a chance as well. But in the end, it was me who never got a chance, who was always passed over because someone else deserved it more. Not because they were better or more qualified, but because I was too extraverted, too ‘present’, thus giving the impression that I got enough chances to be in the spotlight already. Now, I don’t want to get all sad and sappy here and make you feel sorry for me. I got over it; we’re not talking major trauma here.
But I do remember what it felt like to be passed over.
There are students like me in every youth ministry. Students who know all the answers, who always raise their hand, who never miss an opportunity to speak up. Students who are extraverted, social, and sometimes a big pain because they draw so much attention to themselves.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a chance as well.
Every student deserves a chance, including the ones that don’t seem to need it. Are you passing over the loud students? Keep passing them over, keep ignoring them, and they’ll only get louder. I was a royal pain at times because I wasn’t accepted for who I am and I never got the room to be myself.
Every student deserves a chance. It’s logical to want to include the quiet kids, the shy ones, the ones that don’t promote themselves. You should include them and we are rightfully reminded of this at many youth ministry trainings. But if you always choose them, you’ll end up passing over the loud students who need your attention, your confirmation, and the chance to shine just as much. Be fair and give the quiet ones as much attention as the loud ones.
Which group do you tend to ‘favor’: the quiet students or the loud ones?