Appreciate

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, organizational strategy, purpose, students, systems, team building, Uncategorized

 

hug

Showing appreciation for others is a big deal. Whether it is a pat on the back, a high-five, or an award, valuing the work that others do is important for an organization to flourish. These tokens of appreciation go a long way in building relationships, rapport, trust, loyalty and investing in the emotional bank accounts of your team. Many people have the misconception that appreciation is linked to finances. It can be, but demonstrating appreciation goes further than a buck or two.

Appreciation, and honoring, people doesn’t just go from the bottom position of an organization to the top. It has be invasive of the culture in which you are a part of. How you appreciate the low-rung on the ladder speaks volumes to those looking to be a part of what your organization is doing. Here are few things to think about in showing appreciation to those who are getting their hands dirty with you to improve the lives of youth.

Make it personal

Finding out what your youth workers love to do in their off time is a great way to show appreciation. Maybe it is letting them leave an extra hour or two from work, or getting them a movie ticket, or putting the playoffs, or the big match, on  in the meeting room. When working with volunteers, I often ask them what their love language is so that I can best show appreciation. Some of the things I have done is babysat the kids of the leaders so they could do a date night with their spouse, we’ve done giant dog piles, talked them up in a big meeting and or simply wrote them a thank you. Look for ways to honor the people that are working alongside you in a way that makes it personal to them.

Make it fun

Fun is a core value that can change the atmosphere of your organization. Making the way you appreciate people fun is part that. Rent out giant soccer, get lunch catered, buy a dozen donuts, or have a wacky clothes day. Do a big awards ceremony for your staff and volunteers (watch the Office episode about the Dundies for inspiration). When fun is involved in how you appreciate youth workers, it creates excited, generates momentum and establishes culture.

Make it part of the culture

When you begin to show value to the people that are part of your team it becomes a catalyst for great things to happen. People get more excited for the work they do, they begin to form bonds between one another and are willing to go that extra mile. When you lead by appreciating others, that same attitude spreads to others  and builds momentum for a great environment to be a part of.  Make appreciation a part of the culture by doing it routinely and publicly.  Before you dive into staff meetings, take a moment to recognize people and for others to do the same. Throw a party!

Do the people on your team feel valued and cared for? How do you know? What can you do today to help show them that you appreciate all the they do to impact the lives of youth?

Lenses

#misfits, adolescent, community, purpose, students, Uncategorized

eye-exam

The way we think about youth today matters. People are inclined to either view youth as an asset or as a liability.

This thinking can be considered to be either from the perspective of strengths or deficits. This small difference can change how we interact, serve and work with youth. It can be a challenging concept but think about the past week, how have you seen the youth you work with? 

Seeing youth as assets, and creating environments and conversations based on the strengths of the students allows youth to find a greater joy, peace and sense of self then just looking at their deficits and the things that are not working for them. Even the things that youth lack become an opportunity for better relationships, growth and learning than simply a problem.

If we ask people to examine our own lives they are sure to find deficits, things that are missing, ways that we have failed, and our less honorable moments.  A different, strength-based, approach creates a sense of personal accomplishment, looks at the relationships of youth and allows youth to develop in a way that helps them build grit in order to overcome the challenges of life. This distinction is the lens in which we choose to see the world.

When you choose to interact with youth, and even their families, through the lens of their strengths it changes the attitudes and perspectives of those involved. There is now hope where things once looked bleak. There is new life, because someone has decided to look for the strengths where others missed the opportunity. Youth are able to engage in the world around them in a positive manner, they can see what is going well for them, they feel competent to accomplish tasks and meet expectations, and allows the relationship between adult and youth to be a positive one.

There are three basic ideas when we shift perspective to the strengths of youth:

  1. All youth have strengths
  2. All youth can be motivated by a caring adult
  3. Just because something is not a strength, does not mean it is a deficit, it is an opportunity

Here are some great questions to start asking youth in order to look through the lens of their strengths:

  1. What is working well?
  2. If you said one good thing about yourself, what would it be?
  3. What do you like most about your friends? Why?
  4. How do you think your friends would describe you?
  5. Who is someone you look up to? Why do you like them?
  6. What do you do to blow off steam?
  7. What is life like when you are most at peace?
  8. What gives you energy?
  9. How have you overcome the challenges in life?
  10. What is one thing you can do that would help improve _______ in your life?

Youth are more capable then we realize. However, during life it takes caring adults to help show them their strengths, not just berate them on failures. The conversations you get to have with youth as you walk through life with them helps to reinforce that they belong somewhere, that they are significant, that they have something to offer the world, and they are worthy of love.

 

Self

#misfits, adolescent, community, Family Ministry, purpose, students, Uncategorized

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Sometimes youth simply need space to figure things out on their own. Come on, this one shouldn’t be a surprise to you. Think back to when you were a teenager. No matter how many times someone told you not to do something or warned you about the “severe consequences” of this or that, chances are you still did it.

One of the basic needs for youth is to “experiment to discover self, gain independence and to gain control over one’s life.” In other words, youth need space to try to figure out who they are.

This can be very difficult for some people, especially parents. Hopefully, a trust has been formed through giving youth the other basic needs that you can put some slack out on the reigns.  Think about it for a moment, you’ve helped give you safety and structure, given them a place to belong and helped them develop self-worth; they should be getting a great glimpse of their identity.

Youth will try to test that out. This is the experiment phase as adults we dread for our young people. They can engage in risk-taking behavior, question their faith, question authority and in their journey of self-discovery have the potential to miss the mark completely.

It takes caring adults to walk with youth in these moments. Adults who will act as waypoints when youth lose their way; to be a lighthouse calling the ships back from sea.

I love the stories I’ve heard recently about parents creating codes with their kids so the kids can have a way out of a tough situation. The teen will text their parents, older siblings, or even you, the code word and in response they would call the teen saying that they are coming to get them it is an emergency, or some other excuse. See, youth often know that they may not want to be in a situation, they need that independence to make that choice themselves, and sometimes they just need an escape plan. This plan works great because the teen has an escape but feels safe because the parents establish trust enough not to ask the teen questions and punish them. What steps can you take to help the youth around you get a sense of independence?

Hang tough as the youth who you work with are on this journey of self-discovery. Call out the greatness you see in them. Walk with them in the messes they make and help them figure out how to clean it up best. This is how teens learn to handle all the stress, poor decisions and chaos that life can throw at them. It is scary, but love them and pray like crazy.

Do Something

#misfits, adolescent, community, Family Ministry, Student Ministry, students, Uncategorized

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When I talk with youth workers about how to engage youth I talk about the BIG 3. These are three questions that youth wrestle with:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Where do I belong?
  3. What am I to do?

The first question deals with identity; the second, community and the third question deals with purpose.

A basic youth need is to develop self-worth through meaningful contribution.

For youth workers that means to help youth find their voice, find their passion and get involved. Youth should find their purpose and figure out how to use that purpose in a way that is bigger than themselves.

This contribution often looks different for each youth. It is unique because of who the youth is and where they feel they want to get involved. Maybe it is a local youth council, volunteering at church or at a community center,  or being part of school activities.

Youth simply need to know that they can contribute something to the world. That who they are, and the things they can do, matters to the world around them.

Not sure how to get the ball rolling in helping youth get plugged in somewhere? Ask them some good questions, what they like to do, what are some of their talents and passions? For instance, if a young man loves basketball try to see if he could volunteer to coach young kids.

You are a great resource for youth because you are able to see some of these connections better than them and have your own social network to tap into to get them involved. As you walk with youth help them to leave a mark on the community they are a part of.

#Basic

#misfits, adolescent, community, Family Ministry, life, purpose, Student Ministry, students, systems, team building, Uncategorized

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As youth workers we often get the privilege of watching a youth grow over multiple years. Friends over at Orange have broken these down in what they call Phases. Each phase has unique strengths and challenges for that age group.  Youth are often asking similar questions and have similar concerns that are unique to that particular phase. Many moons ago, Dr. Gisela Konopka, helped pioneer the way for youth development and helped generate eight basic needs that all youth need to develop in a healthy way. Over the next few weeks I want to look at each of these basic needs, why they are so important and ways that you can help youth that you work with meet these needs. The eight basic needs for healthy youth development are:

  1. Feels Sense of Safety and Structure
  2. Experience active participation, group membership, and belonging.
  3. Develop self-worth through meaningful contribution
  4. Experiment to discover self, gain independence, and gain control over ones life
  5. Develop significant quality relationships with peers and at least one adult
  6. Discuss conflicting values and navigate their own values
  7. Feel pride of competence and mastery
  8. Expand their capacity to enjoy life and know that success is possible

Before we dive into the how we can help youth attain these important developmental needs, we should evaluate where we are currently.

First, when you think of youth development what do you think of? What does it sound and look like?  what experiences are important? What do youth value? What does it feel like? Jot some ideas down and hang it up somewhere.

When you were a youth, which of these were important to you? They all have an importance to the eight basic needs of youth.

Whichofthesewereimportant

Finally, what is your program doing right now to meet some of these needs?

When we are able to help meet the needs of our youth, we are able to better walk with them through their lives. As we look through these basic needs, we are able to improve our practices and our programs to allow for youth to have a place to belong.

Win-Win

#misfits, #politics, adolescent, church, community, organizational strategy, systems, Uncategorized

winwin

 

There is a scene in the movie “A Beautiful Mind” that has always stuck with me.

   It is a scene where the main characters and his friends are at a bar and a group of girls walk in. They begin to apply various theories into how to approach the girls. What stuck out to me was the idea that decisions should be made for what is best for the individual and what is best for the group. It brought to my attention what I would later learn to be the concept of Win-Win strategy.

Dealing with other organizations, finding new partners and even recruiting new volunteers can be complicated. Many times there are different agendas and motives for people wanting to participate. There is also this sense of control and who has more power over the other. Everyone wants to call the shots and everyone wants what is best for their own organization. However, what is often best for one party is not best for another. In these Win-Lose, or even Lose-Lose, scenarios relationships can be broken, partnerships fail and success if often hindered.

I have tried to apply Win-Win thinking into new endeavors and partnerships that I form. This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people. Win-Win helps people and organizations to collaborate and cooperate together, instead of competing with one another.

Thinking Win-Win is often not the norm of organizations and can be tricky. There is a balancing act between being empathetic to the needs of another person and sticking to vision and mission of yourself and your organization. It often takes out of the box thinking, innovation and giving up something inconsequential for something valuable. To apply Win-Win into your interactions with others it takes a lot of maturity, integrity, and understanding of what is core to achieving the purposes of your organization.

If you are in the middle of debating new partnerships or new collaborations and you just seem to be getting stuck, start to think Win-Win. Get to the Core of your organization, your mission and values, the things that if changed would radically change the function of your group. If the partnership starts to endanger these things, they may not be a good fit. However, what are some little things that you may be able to give up in order for something new to start. Start to think Win-Win and see how new things start to flourish and partnerships begin to form.

Habits

#misfits, church, community, Family Ministry, Ministry, Uncategorized

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     Last week we introduced you to the book ‘Your Best Us’ by our friend Ted Lowe. This week we wanted to give you an insiders look at how the book can impact your marriage. By no means is this a cheat sheet, in the book each one of the four habits is dived into and gives tips to put them into practice and personalize your journey. Your Best Us helped us look at where we are at in our marriage and pick things to work on. These four habits help us to increase the connection we have in our marriage and we hope to point other couples to practice these habits too. 

Habit 1: Have Serious Fun

“One of the best ways to protect your marriage is to enjoy your marriage.”

     Your marriage should be fun. This habit defies some of the common barriers that stop us from having fun. In our marriage, it is busyness and exhaustion. Sometimes, we are just too tired to enjoy one another and would rather go to bed. This stops us from simply talking and connecting for the day. To practice having fun we continued our weekly tradition of Date Night. For us it is Monday night (unless talked about before hand) and we go out to eat and go do something together. It gives us our own time, allows us to talk with one another, ask each other questions and dream together.

Habit 2: Put God First

“When our connection with God is growing it postures us to love others better than we could ever love them on our own.”

     Habit 2 finds us getting back to our basics. It simply asks the question “how are you and Jesus doing?” This habit rekindles our love for God which in turn rekindles our love for our spouses. If you are finding yourself in a rut lately, start up a new reading plan, pray (pray alone or with your spouse),  or join a small group at your church. These small steps can help you discover the Us in your marriage.

Habit 3: Respect & Love

“Our spouses reveal the brokenness in us”

“hurtful words from broken people, write lies on our hearts”

     We were introduced to this idea in our pre-marital counseling. We are two broken people, with hurts, habits and hang ups, coming together in marriage. Things can get intense. From the words you use, the tone you use, or simply leaving the fridge open too long. Sometimes, we don’t think the best of our spouses. Respect & Love helps us to identify the cycle of negativity that separates us from connecting with one another. When we can identify the negative cycle, action can be taken to start working on replacing the negativity (and lies we believe about ourselves) with positive truths.

Habit 4: Practice Your Promise

“We can chose to love better.”

     Standing in front of a room of friends and family, we took vows together. It is these promises that we need to practice. This habit simply challenges us to ask the question: WHAT AM I DOING TO MAKE THIS MARRIAGE WORK? It gets us out of the victim mentality, that “woe is me,” that blames the other person. It helps us to take ownership of our promise to our spouse and to simply show up.

     It was great reading this book together and simply talking about how to become the BEST US. Go to MarriedPeople to learn about how you can empower couples and pick up your copy of “Your Best Us

Our Best Us

#misfits, Family Ministry, Uncategorized

happycouple

 

As someone who recognizes that we are not perfect, that we deserve a second chance and should pursue our passions, I was excited to find a wife that felt the same way. My wife and I have both recognized that we want our marriage to be different than those we have seen and want to be examples to other marriages around us. Our friend Ted Lowe helped by writing a book called ‘Your Best Us.’ Ted and I were hanging out at Orange Conference this year and we started talking about marriage, millennials, and ways to impact the world. Ted challenged me to read the book, along with my wife. 

I love the idea behind ‘Your Best Us’. My wife and I have always wanted and strived to improve on the marriages we have seen, learn from both successes and failures of others, and work together in our marriage. The Best Us is unique in that it doesn’t want couples to compares themselves to some cookie-cutter image of what marriage should be like. This week and next week, we’ll talk about the book and what we have learned along the way. 

The book introduces us to Ted, his wife, and four core habits that have help Ted run successful marriage ministries and help him in his marriage to his wife. The habits of your marriage are important. A few weeks ago, my wife and I simply said we just needed to start by pausing whatever is going on to give a kind word to one another or to just do a random act of kindness for each other to help create a positive spin on our day. That simple acknowledgement that we needed to work on something together has helped us a lot. Ted writes that “your marital habits either lead to the connection, or the disconnection, of your US.”  Abbi and I both are trying to work on the habits that lead to greater connectivity between us. We love the four core habits to build of, have serious fun, love God first, love & respect and practicing our promise. The book helps you put these habits in your marriage by helping you talk about them and practice them over a week. We have learned a lot and want to share some of the things we learned along the way next week.

We want our marriage to be our story. We are excited to have started reading and talking about what good habits look like in our marriage and how to better love one another. Check out MarriedPeople for more information and head over to Orange Store to get your copy.

Rally

#misfits, church, community, Family Ministry, misfits, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

rally

 

The problems we face as individuals, neighborhoods, cities and as a nation, we cannot face them alone.

It takes a group of people, united in a common vision, to tackle problems that are as complex as we are as people. It is the same in working with youth,  it truly takes a village.

There are so many people who can speak into the lives of youth and so many available resources. Somehow in the quantity of it all, people have fallen victim to the bystander effect. The idea that someone else will offer help, someone else will step up, someone else will champion for that youth, simply because they are around. In the end, since everyone has fallen to bystander effect, nothing is done and we grow more apathetic.

As student champions we must rally all the adults in a students life to work together.

No matter the organization in which you are dealing with youth, there are other adults that can influence the same child you work with. Their parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, mentors, aunt and uncles and even the guy at the gym their son tries to emulate. There is greater potential for influencing the life of a child when we rally together.

I have been working and researching a lot on at-risk youth the past year. The single biggest idea that I continue to come across is the more positive connections a youth has in their community, the more likely they will experience positive outcomes.

Think about that one kid that you love so much but somehow they just don’t see your vision for them in their life. Who are some other adults you can rally around them? Start of with their parents. Ask how you can help. Talk to them about what you see in their child and you want to make potential, a reality. Connect with other people, build a network of connections and people who want to see youth flourish. We cannot afford to be islands, isolated people, trying to influence youth. We must work together, collaborate, share ideas and resources in order to impact the lives of our younger friends. 

Orange Quotables

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, empathy, Family Ministry, Ministry, organizational strategy, Student Ministry, students, Uncategorized

The Monday after Orange and I am still processing all the awesome stuff that happened at Orange. I am thinking about the students I work with, my neighbors, the city I live in and my own ministry. I posted the notes to the sessions I attended in these blogs.

#OC17 Rundown 17.1

#OC17 Rundown 17.2

Here are some quotes that stood out to me amongst all the wisdom shared at Orange Conference 2017.

Love everybody, always.

    -Bob Goff

I’m not trying to be right anymore, Im trying to be Jesus.

    -Bob Goff

Following Jesus means leading a life that will be constantly misunderstood.

    -Bob Goff

If the church doesn’t do this, then who does.

    -Nicole Fulham Baker

Something powerful happens when neighbors who aren’t for the church, realize the church is still for them.

    – Jeff Henderson

If we listen long enough, we’ll hear someones pain.

    – Ryan Leak

When we can show up for yourselves, and surround ourselves with others who believe in us, we can find the possibility within us.

    – Mike Foster

I have to do this, because this matters, they matter.

    – David Tieche

This is what we need: adults who will take extreme ownership for problems they did not create, for kids that are not theirs, and say “I will solve it” even though it is not their responsibility.

    – David Tieche

This is the sacred task of youth workers, we get to call out the essence the youth we work with.

    -Dave Tieche

In every case if a teenager has an asset it is because a caring adult has given it to them

    -Dave Tieche

God is in love with people, you cannot dismiss people and be ok with God.

    -Andy Stanley

When you approach this new way, of loving people the way Jesus loves you, all the old loopholes and questions and excuses close.

    -Andy Stanley

I can’t just try to keep kids entertained and attending, I’ve got to challenge them to serve and to minister.

    – Doug Field

Mr. Rodgers didn’t qualify who his neighbor was. Neither did Jesus.

    -Jon Acuff

We never let parents, parent alone.

    – Carlos Whittaker

The next generation needs someone who has gone before them to be for them.

    – Gerald Fadayomi

There are no ordinary children.

    – Danielle Strickland

Sometimes it takes a party, to change how we see each other.

Sometimes it takes a party to demonstrate that God cares about people who party.

Sometimes it takes a party, to confirm that we can always be forgiven.

Sometimes it takes a party, to prove that people matter more than our opinions.

Sometimes it takes a party, to remind us all that everyone is invited to the party.

Start a party.

    – Reggie Joiner

Students need consistent opportunities to love and serve others and to coach them while they do it

    -Reggie Joiner