There’s never a dull moment in youth ministry, right?
Actually, that may be truer than we realize … and also something we should not be so happy about. As it turns out, there are several benefits to being bored.
Teens nowadays have little time to be bored. I’m talking about good old-fashioned slumping on the couch, eyes glazing over, yawning while complaining at the same time … I’m soooo boooored!
We all know the culprit too: technology. Those long car rides that used to be THE surefire recipe for boredom are now spent playing games, checking phones or watching dvd’s. Waiting rooms, airports, the hairdresser, rainy afternoons—they all used to guarantee getting bored, but not anymore.
And that’s not necessarily a good thing (though admittedly, traveling with kids has gotten a lot less stressful!).
While we may not like being bored, and our students even less, it’s actually beneficial for our brains. First of all, boredom promotes introspection—an activity all teens could benefit from (in moderation).
But more importantly: Boredom is fertile ground for creativity. Research shows that bored people are more creative people—counterintuitive as that may sound. Researchers reason that boredom frees our minds to daydream and think outside the box.
There’s also research that suggests a link between boredom and doing good deeds. One study showed bored people were more likely to donate blood or giving money to charities. The theory behind this was that we seek relief from feeling bleh by doing good deeds.
Teens rebel against boredom more than any other age group, probably because of their higher dopamine level which screams for excitement and entertainment. Yet teens need to be bored every now and then as well. In teens, lack of boredom has been linked to anxiety.
What does this mean for youth ministry? First of all, informing parents of the benefits of boredom is a good start. It might relieve them of the constant pressure of providing entertainment. And who knows, it may also result in some unexpected personal contacts between parents and their teens.
When it comes to youth ministry events and programs, scheduling boredom may go a bit too far. But scheduling ‘free time’ in a retreat, having a small group without an agenda or plan, or simply allowing 15 minutes before and after each event without a scheduled activity may offer some beneficial boredom for your students. And maybe for you as well!
Are there still instances or places where you are bored? What goes through your mind then?
[Source: Real Simple, February 2015]