Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Texts: Matthew 1:22, 23; John 1:14; Luke 15:3–24; Matthew 9:10–13; Psalm 51:17; 1 John 2:16; Philippians 2:13–15
Social skills are a real asset in finding a life partner, landing a job, and working well with others. But the gifts of relating well to people don’t just spring up overnight. Communicating in positive ways with others starts young, even in kindergarten. That’s what a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) research project discovered in a 20-year study involving 800 children beginning in 1991.
In an online article titled, “New Research: Children with Strong Social Skills in Kindergarten More Likely to Thrive as Adults,” the authors reveal that how you behave when you are just five years old can predict to a large degree where you will be as a young adult. “Children who were more likely to ‘share’ or ‘be helpful’ in kindergarten were also more likely to obtain higher education and hold full-time jobs nearly two decades later, the study found.”1
Teaching kids social and emotional skills is one of the most helpful ways to ensure a healthy future. Some of the behaviors analyzed included the resolution of peer problems, listening to others, sharing materials, cooperating, and being helpful. Using a point scale, the researchers showed how a child’s social competence score in kindergarten revealed how likely they were to have a college degree and hold a full-time job or even the chances of them spending time in a juvenile detention center or be a binge drinker.
In our Sabbath school lesson this week we consider Jesus’ methods of relating to people. Christ was intentional about socially interacting with others. As Ellen White clearly explains, Jesus “mingled with [people] as one who desired their good” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 143). The Savior went out of the way to connect with the wounded, the lonely, the sick, and the hopeless. When in the presence of Christ, people could tell that Jesus genuinely “desired their good.”
One author of the RWJF research project says, “The good news is that social and emotional skills can improve.” We are not stuck with social incompetence, but can advance by learning new skills. Studying this week’s lesson is a good way to press forward in how to relate well with others. It not only lays a foundation for positive relationships; it opens doors to share our faith in ways that bring true success in introducing people to Jesus.
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