Published in 2006, Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success started a conversation. This conversation is important to consider in kids ministry. In her research Dweck breaks down two different mindsets:
- Fixed mindset: people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply traits. They spend time documenting their intelligence instead of developing it.
- Growth mindset: people believe their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just a starting point. This mindset creates a love of learning and resilience.
Growth mindset is the advantageous disposition, and we would all love to believe this is where we are, but how many times have you said, “I’m just no good at math,” or, “as long as I do not get in last”. The latter was my personal goal whenever I ran track in middle school. As much as I want to believe I have a growth mindset, there are certainly times like my short track career where I lived in a fixed mindset.
Mindsets are taught early in life. Consider a kid in your ministry who memorizes a verse; do you say to this kid, “wow, you are so smart to have memorized such a difficult verse,” or, “your hard work definitely paid off memorizing that verse, great job”? The former keys in on the kid’s natural ability. It seems innocuous, but it can influence a kid’s mindset making them believe their intelligence is static.
This all matters to us as kid ministry leaders. We want to influence a growth mindset in our kids. The only fixed aspect of our lives is the gospel message. We are all sinners, we are all require a savior in Christ, he has accomplished our salvation, and we just need to respond. Beyond that our christian living thrives on a growth mindset. We want to encourage kids to grow in their relationship with God through prayer, reading His Word, sacrificial giving and the like. Reinforcing a growth mindset can help kids accomplish spiritual growth.