One of the things I quickly noticed when running an inner city ministry for middle schoolers was that these kids have a long history of broken promises by significant adults in their lives. These kids were really insecure about trusting adults, because adults had proven untrustworthy. They’d had their hopes dashed so many times that the last thing they wanted to do was trust that an adult would do what they said they were going to do.

So to model Jesus to these kids, I had to absolutely– 100% of the time– follow through on every promise I made. Consequently, I was careful about what I promised. Because if I said I would do something, that meant I would absolutely have to do it. When I told the kids we were going to Raging Waters theme part in two months, they wanted to go this week. They were really freaking out, insisting that it needed to be this week. In their experience, if it didn’t happen right away, it wouldn’t happen at all. But I just kept repeating the date. We’ll do it in two months, on this date. And then we did. We repeated that cycle with other events.

It took about a year, but one day when I told the kids we’d be going to the beach next month, they just said, “Oh. Okay,” and walked off happy and content with that answer. The trust barrier had been broken through. They now had one adult that they could trust.

Sometimes we have to break people’s mental patterns to reflect Jesus to them accurately. Consider the people you serve and minister to. What patterns among them need to be broken? How could you do that?