Recently, I went to a baseball game for one of the boys in my small group. This is his first year in “kid pitch”. If you were to look up the definition of a “Kid Pitch league”, I am sure you would find something like: A baseball league in which pre-adolescent kids take turns attempting to throw strikes while their peers swing a baseball bat back and forth at pitches both three feet over their head and well below their feet. On occasion, a bat strikes a ball and some fielding may take place in games that last anywhere from one to nineteen hours.”
I may be making it sound worse than it was. It actually was a great chance for me to connect with his parents. But the highlight came in the third inning when Josh (my small group buddy) was involved in a “squeeze play” between first and second base. The action was welcomed! (especially after six straight walks by the pitcher) The play ended with Josh getting the ball and tagging the runner out. As he tagged him to make the final out of the inning, all the boys from Josh’s team ran to the dugout to celebrate. What happened next blew me away. Few people noticed that as Josh tagged the runner, the runner fell to the ground. The fans were celebrating wildly with the rest of the boys who were chaotically running to the dugout, but I watched in amazement as Josh leaned down to check on the runner and help him up. I caught it! I caught him in the act of demonstrating kindness and respect. Virtues that we have talked about, read about and worked on at church. I looked at his parents who have also worked with him on the same virtues—they had caught it, too!
After the game, I got the chance to talk to Josh and congratulate him on the win. He looked at me with a big smile and said, “thanks”. Then I took a knee and looked into his eyes and said, “hey bud, I need you to know I caught you doing something tonight.” He looked concerned (probably because he’s been “caught” before and it hasn’t been good). I went on to share with him that I had “caught” him showing kindness and respect to the young man on the other team. I told him I planned on sharing that story with his friends in our group Sunday. He looked at me with an even bigger smile and said, “Really??? Thanks!” He didn’t do it for others to see…he did it because it was the right thing to do. But he was encouraged and I was able to create a teachable moment!
When Sunday rolled around and I shared with the others what I had “caught” Josh doing, I think his smile was even bigger than it was when he tagged that runner out in the squeeze play. I wonder which of those moments he will remember more?
Even the smallest moment can be a teachable moment; we simply have to catch it. I think I learned that night that kids want to be “caught.” They want us to celebrate with them and share with others that they got “caught.” As you lead your group, church, ministry or team, I hope you get the chance to catch others!