Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church

A mentor walked with her three girls through the forest and pointed at three small seedlings barely poking through the soil, “Can each of you uproot one of those?” The mentor said to the girls.

“Of course!” they replied. And with just a small effort they pulled up the roots and all.

The mentor continued to walk through the trees, “What about those?” She was pointing at three young trees not much taller than them. The girls raced with excitement over to the young plants and placed both hands around the plant’s trunk and pulled with all their strength. After about a minute of pulling each of the girls exclaimed,

“Got it!!”

The mentor then pointed at three full-grown Oak Trees that stretched to the skies. “Can you uproot those?”

“No way!” Said each of the girls in their own shocking tone. “They are already full grown and their roots are too deep.”

The mentor then looked at each of the girls with an intensity they had yet seen and said, “Such is a metaphor for destructive behaviors in our lives. When they first begin they are the easiest to end. However, the longer you tolerate destructive behaviors, problematic people, and negative issues to remain in your life, the more difficult they are to uproot.”

The above is a metaphor that communicates the principle of starting early to remove negative influences from your life. In this case, however, I want to use it to communicate the importance of starting early in the life of your D-Group to end problematic issues caused by disrespectful students.

Nothing discourages a leader and throws off the dynamic of a group more than a disrespectful student who says inappropriate comments at inopportune times. You may say to yourself, “Well, he is just a kid…what can you expect?!” However, you are exactly right, you will only get what you expect. In other words, you can only expect to get what you are willing to tolerate.

Every D-Group leader needs to feel empowered to put an end to group member behaviors that disrupt the group and cause other students to go home feeling ashamed. Make a point to end the behavior of a disrespectful student in the young beginnings of your group while you are still establishing your expectations. After all, you are the leader and in charge of setting the spiritual climate of your group. Only tolerate what you want to someday expect.

Here are a few steps to take in consequential order to end a student’s disruptive and disrespectful behaviors:

  • Talk one-on-one after group. Let the student know how much you are glad they are in the group. State specifically the actions you will not tolerate and give ways for them to become a positive asset to the group. End the conversation with a side-hug or high-five telling them you think they are awesome.
  • Call the parents. Be completely honest about their child’s behavior. Do not sugarcoat it.
  • Contact Garrison. I will call the parents and strongly suggest taking a semester off.