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Slow Down and See Kids Like Tyler

Hey Insiders,

We have a moving story for you today from Neely McQueen. There is something to learn for all of us here about slowing down and SEEING people. What can you take away as a lesson from Tyler’s story?

McQueen_Neely_0312 By NEELY MCQUEEN

My husband is a missions pastor at our church, and his office is about 200 feet away from mine. It’s the best. Every time I walk down to his office (to steal his snacks!) I notice a little picture taped to his computer screen.

This picture was from years ago, a story of a young boy starved to death in our area by his mother.

Not only was the boy’s adoptive mother in trouble with the law, but also the social worker, the child’s pediatrician, and psychiatrist found themselves in court. None of these caregivers seemed to think that more was going on underneath the surface of what looked like a “normal” family despite the weight loss and the constant bruises found on the boy. Tyler was 7-years-old, and he died of thirst and starvation weighing just 28 pounds.

When I first heard the story, I wondered how someone could watch this happen and not notice what was happening.

The more I processed it, I found myself feeling sadness at how many times I missed what was happening under the surface in the lives of my students.

While I have never had a student who was being starved by his parents, I have encountered countless broken and hurting teens, ones that fueled my call into ministry. But somehow the work of ministry has made me miss seeing and caring for them. Ironic, right?

This boy reminded me about my call.

Here’s what I decided to do about it:

Slow down. Don’t miss seeing people

The work of ministry is never done… accept it.

Slow down, look around, and think of your students. Have you seen any behavioral changes lately in any students? Has someone been missing for a while? I’m thinking about it right now, too. I’m slowing down, thinking of names, praying for families… and asking God for ways to better shepherd the hurting in my care.

Remember people are not their behavior. But behavior can point us to their brokenness.

It is so much easier to focus on the behavior right front us, to not ask questions or attempt to dig deeper. Behaviors tend to point us to pain and brokenness. Don’t let behavior modification be the goal. Instead, help students pinpoint their pain to find healing and be transformed. It may seem that you get similar outcomes in the short term but not in the long haul.

Name their potential.  Help them see beyond their current situations.

When you speak to students of their potential, they tend to let you see who they really are underneath it all. When they begin to be their true self, healing can be found. Take the time and speak it. Watch how God uses your words to transform lives.

Our world is full of hurting people. May we go “slow enough” that we can see them when they are right in front of us.

Slowing down with you,




0 thoughts on “Slow Down and See Kids Like Tyler

  1. Neely,

    This is a fantastic post. It breaks my heart to read that story. You offer some great insight into really keeping our eyes open and caring! thanx for the encouragement.

  2. Awesome and on point! Thanks for sharing your heart. I hope this can become the hearts of more student ministers!

    • Thanks Jeremy! Me too…imagine what the Church might look like if we had the eyes to see the hurting!

  3. Thanks Erik (w/a k)! Praying for our eyes to see and our hearts to be stirred to caring!

  4. Neely,
    Thank you so much for you heart for youth and ministry! As a parent I see the brokenness and the struggle for some to fit in (even with my own kids) but MY heart is SO thankful to have you and the other caring staff at OCC Student Ministries. I love your efforts to notice who is missing and then digging to find out why. It is a big place and you just made it smaller. Praying for you!

  5. A great reminder when you said, “Remember people are not their behavior. But behavior can point us to their brokenness.”

    I’m learning that whatever is going on in our outside world is reflection of whats happening in our inside world. In the midst of youth ministry and everything that needs done, I don’t want to forget this important truth.

    Great post. Thank you!

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Slow Down and See Kids Like Tyler

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