When A Single Becomes the Authority Figure













Saturday afternoon I invited kids from the island to my house so they could watch Veggie-Tales (I know I’ve lost my mind thank you very much).  As I got ready that morning part of me knew this would be the day discipline would have to be handed out.

Over the last week the kids have been getting crazier and crazier.  This was mostly due to the fact that they were on school break till Wednesday, but also having seven or eight kids on your porch at once can be chaotic.  In a deeper sense there is little discipline or structure (rules that need to be followed) for children on the island so they simply don’t have respect for authority.

As a single person who they visit every afternoon for juice and a story I’m definitely not the main authority figure called to bring structure into their lives.  That’s a job for their parents and other family members, teachers, or in a worst case scenario their neighbor or an adult they’ve known for a long time.  Definitely not the American whose been here for two-months.

Let me perfectly honest…it would be a whole lot easier to endure a half-hour of chaos and then send them home instead of instituting a system of rules and punishments if they don’t follow them.  The problem is we live in a culture of authority figures who choose to endure the chaos instead of doing something about it.  This eventually results in children who don’t  know structure, only chaos.

In a perfect world I would be “Mr. John” the missionary who shares the Gospel with them as they listen quietly.  But of course we don’t live in a perfect world.

  1. We live in a world of absentee fathers
  2. Authority figures who refuse to give consequences when children disobey
  3. Parents who act like little children (unwilling to take responsibility)
  4. And people who aren’t willing to do anything about the chaos

Yes as the guy who the visit for juice and a Bible story I’m probably not the one who is supposed to bring structure into the lives of these children.  But as a Christian called by God to reach their hearts with the Gospel I must dive into the chaos, wrestle with it, and in love teach them wrong choices bring consequences.

Half-way through our second scoobie-doo episode (it followed veggie tales) two of the boys started getting wild and I finally told them to go home.  This was repeated four times till I walked down to the gate and told them in specific terms not leaving would be met with the consequence of not coming to my house for two days.  Instead of leaving they decided to hide behind a wall so unfortunately they won’t be coming till Wednesday.   Of course after this they were VERY obedient and begged me to have mercy.  In that moment being a big softie I was tempted to give them another chance.

I mean seriously what’s so bad about another half-hour of chaos?  The problem with it is I would portray for them just one more broken authority figure who isn’t really there, or never follows up rules with consequences.

So a rules system is implemented and enforced with rewards for those who follow Mr. John’s rules and children who misbehave will be sent home.  And with the Lord’s help there will be thirty-minutes of structure in the midst of complete chaos.

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