If you serve in youth ministry, no matter the capacity, you are aware of the many challenges that face this generation. There are hot button issues that, quite frankly, just stink. They are “the pits” to deal with, as the saying goes. I do feel though, out of the myriad of issues, there is one big issue we all face:
How do you tell a junior high boy that he needs to start wearing deodorant?
It’s natural. It’s biology. At some point in life, every male starts to have a pungent odor that begins to permeate his world. Albeit there are some mitigating factors, such as showering, doing laundry, not having 6 dogs and 2 cats. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it just doesn’t help) So I will concede that the sole culprit isn’t always the arm pit. I posed the question to people with various positions of influence and experience. I asked pastors, pastors wives (usually the brains of the operation), youth volunteers, actual doctors, authors, coaches, I did not filter these responses whatsoever, so that means there might be a few you wouldn’t want to use. But then again, teenagers are different (undoubtedly lovable, but unquestionably weird) so maybe a different or weird approach might be best. Use your best judgment to decide which approach is best for you and your student. Some methods are straight forward, some gentle, some aggressive and some passive aggressive, hopefully one of them actually works. Here are the responses along with a few of my own ideas, in no particular order:
“Randomly” be shopping at Walgreens and “randomly” remember that you have been meaning to pick up a stick of deodorant. Then follow it up by nonchalantly asking what brand he prefers. (To take it a step further, before hand purchase a $15 gift card. And say, “One stick is only $5, why don’t I buy you a stick while we are here! The whole gift card can go towards us not stankin.”)
Write a blog post about it and hope that one of your students stumbles upon it. (Not my goal as of now, but who knows what the future holds)
Say It With Your Eyes
Buy a stick. Wait for the right moment. Silently hand it to him. Look him straight in the eyes, with a look in your eyes that says, “please.”
Buy a gift basket with various sticks and sprays. Give it away at youth group as a prize. (The trick here is to manipulate the game so the student you want to win, actually wins.)
The Passive-Aggressive Over Apply
Carry a stick around with you in your book bag or keep one nearby. Continually ask this student to “go grab your stick” and keep reiterating, “I just like to keep it fresh, ya know?”
The Ladies Man
When talking about girls with this student, tell him your “secret” to “winning the ladies” is a certain brand of deodorant. Then ask him what brand he uses and gently insinuate that the particular brand he uses (or doesn’t) could be the problem.
The Peyton Manning
Tell him to go long and throw him a pass. He catches the football, only it’s not a football, it’s a stick of deodorant.
The Death Threat (Not Recommended)
Tell him scientists are proving that if you don’t wear deodorant you are likely to get cancer.
The Gas Mask (Not Recommended)
Put on a gas mask whenever you have a conversation with that student. When they ask why, put a car air freshener around their neck.
Tell the story of when the lady put perfume on Jesus feet. If we want to be like Jesus, we need to smell good too.
Believe it or not, I also got some very good responses and this is an amalgamation of them:
The Right Way
Pull him aside, don’t embarrass him in front of others. Speak the truth in love. “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” (Phil. 4:5) Tell him it’s better coming from you now, than someone else later. And have some with you so he isn’t self-conscience for the rest of the night.
Or you could pray that it works itself out somehow, as one person responded:
“I haven’t cracked that code.”
Feel free to e-mail any and all comments or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can contact me through twitter: @bcthegeek