No, I am not talking about your Intern staff or the effect your last successful ministry event had on your psyche. I am referring to the invisible shield that surrounds the adolescent with regards to his/her perceived consequences for actions.
Like a private tattoo engraved just below the surface, there is a marking on the chest of every adolescent, a symbol and reflection of developmental stage and attitude. Although it arrives at different times, rest assured that between ages 14-17 nearly 100% have been imprinted.
Just beneath his shirt/her blouse there is a giant “S” tattooed. Superman and Wonderwoman are alive and well. In fact, it is the primary reason why teens don’t “get” it when they are given advice, guidance or warnings. They consequences are for someone else, anyone else, and someone other than them, but not them. He/she is the exception, the ONE to whom the law of gravity and the law of action and reaction (
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object. The direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object. Forces always come in pairs – equal and opposite action-reaction force pairs.
Students tend to develop this natural sense of “that won’t happen to me” mentality when it comes to a variety of risky behaviors (sex, stealing, lying, speeding, reputation, etc.)
What can be done about this Superman Syndrome? The bad news is that it can not be prevented entirely. It can not be removed entirely and it should never be discounted. The good news is that it can be channeled, shaped and reduced to an appropriate level for healthy processing and adjusting during the developmental stages toward adulthood.
Which, by the way are:
1. Infancy (birth -age 2)
2. Early Childhood (3 – 8 yrs)
3. Later childhood (9 -12)
4. Adolescence (13 – 18).
5. Adulthood – 18 and over
Three tips to ministering to the Superman and Wonderwomen of your ministry.
1. Remember they are in process and not camping out. They are on a journey and the youth group is not the destination.
2. DOING – shapes future behavior more than hearing & seeing – hands down, always, bank it, shoot it, count it.
3. You can’t shape them all (not even half, not even a third) you must train volunteers to take up the same mantle relational ministry as you.