Each winter here in Fort Worth, Texas we have an event called the Fort Worth Stock Show. It’s kind of like a state fair with more emphasis on the showing of livestock from the area ranchers. One of the more popular events at the Stock Show is the cutting horse competition.
Cutting horses are horses that are specially bred and trained for the “cutting” of individual cows from amongst a herd of cattle. In other words, the horse has the ability to zero in on a particular cow of the riders choosing and separate the cow from the rest of the herd by darting back and forth in front of the cow keeping it from rejoining the herd. The horses are bred to be quick and agile and their instincts are to keep individual cows separated. It’s in their nature.
As I’ve said before, my wife and I have been on a journey to find a new church for over a year now. It probably wouldn’t have been such a hard task if we didn’t start out on the search with too many preconceived notions of how “church should be done”. We’re learning. A lot.
Nevertheless, one of the things we’ve noticed far too much of is what appears to be a “select” few kids who always seem to dominate the youth group. They’re almost always female, pretty, and have an outgoing and charismatic personality. In other words, they’re the kind of girls who, at least at first, other people are drawn to. In a youth group of 50 or 60 kids, there might be around 5 or 6 who seem to be in this “inner circle”.
These girls tend to run the show. The worship music choice, the activities, skits, talent competitions, etc seem to be all dominated by these “inner circle” girls. In church where there’s home groups, they all congregate and dominate a home group, usually the youth pastor’s. I guess what disturbs my wife and I the most, though, is the way they seem to even dominate who’s friends with who within the church.
Back to the cutting horse illustration.
When new kids who are attractive are brought to the youth group by their friends, whether these new kids are male or female, these “inner circle” girls go into “cutting horse” mode and cut these new, attractive, “right stuff” kids from the rest of the “common herd”. These new kids can never be part of the “inner circle”, but they are kept close and hugged, loved, and shown lots of “Christian fellowship”. These new “right stuff” kids are basically “cut” from the friends that brought them to church in the first place. Not in an overtly obvious way, but by having their time dominated by these “inner circle” girls in a “Christian love” sort of way where the friends that brought them to youth group in the first place are basically left on the outside looking in.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in high school. My wife tells me this is the way a lot of teen girls are acting these days. This behavior is subtle enough it looks an awful lot like these girls are “on fire for the Lord”. Always flitting from person to person, hugging, chatting, loving on these new kids. But if you pay close attention, it’s easy to see it’s only with a certain kind of new kid. A “right stuff” kid.
Look at this scripture in James 2
2:1 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. (ESV)
You see, youth group leaders, or any other Christian for that matter, can stand on stage all day long and talk about the outreach to the poor and homeless they’re doing in downtown. They can talk about all of the food distributions they’re doing for the low-income families in the community. They can even cry while watching the video of their recent mission trip to Haiti. But if they can’t look around within their own circle of influence and realize that preferential treatment of some of their fellow Christians at the exclusion of others within the group is no more “un-Christian” than ignoring the plight of the poor in Haiti, then their hearts are growing hard.
This type of behavior is the way the world runs things. Look at Hollywood and who it is we worship in this country. Good looks and charismatic personalities are worshipped in this country. But we’re Christians. We don’t march to the same set of rules the world does therefore your youth group shouldn’t operate the way the rest of the world does.
There’s always those that are on the “outer fringe” in church. Especially in youth groups. Take a look around. Are you showing preferential treatment to those with the”right stuff”? Is it only the “pretty people” who seem to be running the show? Are the “less than right stuff” people being included equally?
Parents. Open your eyes to the behavior of your kids. Especially your girls. Be honest in your assessment. What kind of friends are they chasing after? Underdogs or Top Dogs?
Remember, in God’s kingdom the last are first. In the bible, the ones who “got it all goin’ on” here on Earth, well, that’s their reward.