by Mabel Boardway

Have you, as a Sunday school teacher, choir leader or mother, for that matter, ever said about a child, “He is a real brat—a real troublemaker”? I have, and I have become convicted about it. How unfair we are to label children as troublemakers!  Let’s give them a chance. There are some children who go from Sunday school department to Sunday school department and from children’s choir to children’s choir with a label stamped on them.

I had one such little boy in my choir one year. I knew when he walked in the door that I was going to have trouble because every choir teacher who has had him has said what a “brat” he was. And, sure enough, for the first couple of Wednesday nights that I had him, he lived up to their label! Then, one Wednesday night, he sat in a different place, and he acted differently. He wasn’t an angel, but he certainly didn’t give me a lot of trouble.

This got me to thinking how cruel we are to label children (and teenagers for that matter) as trouble-makers. I think sometimes little children can sense what we think, and they actually try to “live up to” their reputation simply to get attention.

Aren’t you glad that your Christian friends haven’t labeled you because of something naughty you did when you were a child? I certainly am! I know teenage girls who are known as “loose” because of something they did in their early teenage years. It doesn’t matter that these girls have repented and are living right now; they still carry a label. How wicked that is!

Let’s have high expectations, but never demand perfection. After all, we are all dust, and our children aren’t always going to be perfect. Let’s not label children, teenagers or adults. Let’s give everyone an opportunity to be all he can be for the Lord without having to carry around the excess “baggage” of being labeled as a troublemaker!