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.

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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

Bullied

#misfits, adolescent, church, community, empathy, life, students, Uncategorized


bullied

I’ve been dealing with bullying a lot this week. Sometimes, people are just plain mean to each other. I am not always sure how to handle it and many times the students involved and the circumstances dictate the approach that you use. Something in me fires up when dealing with kids that are being bullied. When you dive into the issues though you often discover that both the victim and the bully need guidance and support.

This week a girl was crying in the hallway after she got punched and filed a report. I walked her down to the nurse to get some ice and just started asking what happened. She relayed her story and to be honest, some adults messed up in the story too. When she was asking her to tell her story I would make sure to have my phone away and then when she took a breathe I would recap what I was hearing so far. Practicing empathetic listening can go along way with someone who is being bullied. I got the information then I decided to communicate with people that needed to get involved further with disciplinary actions. I just made sure she was safe, she had a need met, and was simply heard.

During mediations with students sometimes kids rekindle past frustrations. When someone is amped up and quickly talking, on the verge of yelling, simply ask “can you slow down, I want to help?” This quick statement helps them to acknowledge they need to slow down but in a way that is non-threatening and allows you to say that you are here to help out. Allow for everyone speak, they should try to stick to their side of the story and how it made them feel and act. I ask a lot of clarifying questions and ask why a lot. It helps students to process their emotions and the situation at hand. I try to bring the bullies into a place of empathy with who they bullied, even with a small connection.

Often times, something is going on in the life of the bully that drives them to bullying behavior. I try to talk with them on the side quietly. I ask them questions about life, the emotions they are feeling and process why they would want to hurt someone else. You would be surprised at home many students lash out simply because they themselves have been bullied or hurt someone else simply to feel better about themselves. These can sometimes be tough because there is a misconception about bullies, being tough, and showing off for peers. Building a relationship with the bully is just as important as showing up for the victim. It can change a life.

When working with students you will encounter bullying. Social media, physical, verbal attacks, groups gossiping and even fights. How you step into the hurts of these students tell them a lot of you and about themselves. Be a bridge builder between people, develop their empathy towards one another and walk with them in the hurt.

Art of the Ask

#misfits, church, community, Family Ministry, misfits, organizational strategy, students, systems, team building, Uncategorized, volunteer

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Many of us are in the need of help with something. Some of us need volunteers, others need financial help and others are simply looking for ways to connect with people through an organization. Sometimes I just comes down to the ask, but don’t get me wrong, that ask can be tough. It is a mental game and you really just don’t want to be annoying. When going to ask someone to help, give or just connect here a few thoughts to go in with.

I don’t think I have ever just cold called someone and asked them to be part of what I was doing. I always try to connect with them without my own agenda. I like to get to know them as people and what they enjoy doing. Asking someone to help isn’t manipulating them if you are invested them as an individual over your own agenda. I try not to get selfish with only seeing them helping me out but by getting to know them I can help put them in a place for them to thrive with others. They may not be a fit for the direction you’re going, but you may know someone who they could help considerably.

After getting to know people on a friendly basis I just ask them to meet up and may let them know that I want them to think about helping out. Before I do I really sit and  think through what I am asking that person to contribute. Is it time, their talents, or asking them to give financially.I try to get specific. For instance, instead of asking for money, I tell them about how we need a new printer, or instead of saying I need a new volunteer I talk to them about role they would be filling. I have a clearly defined role planned out, with expectations, for people to understand what they may be committing too before I ask. I try to think through their questions and have some answers. When you have a better handle on what you are asking from people, they get a clearer idea of it too.

I always try to share with them why I feel they would be a great fit. I share with them somethings that I have seen from them already. I talked to them about our need and how they can help. I share stories. Stories are a great way to connect with people. They help connect us to one another and to the mission of where we are going. I try to tell them stories of why I got involved, of other volunteers or success stories that we have seen.

Then, I let them make the choice. I don’t twist their arm, or guilt them into saying yes. I pray hard. I take what they can give and leverage that for wins. Sometimes, a yes to a small ask will lead to a yes to a bigger ask, later down the road.

So what do you need to move forward in your ministry? In your life? In your next steps? Who can you ask to walk alongside with you. Don’t be afraid to ask. Walk with people with no agenda, have a clear idea of how they an help you or someone else, share with them a vision of thriving and then let them do the rest. Be bold in your ask and you’ll be surprised at how people come through.

 

Connection

church, community, empathy, life, Ministry, misfits, purpose, stories, Uncategorized

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     I sat listening to a speaker, with my wife, the other night talk about the need for connection, a need for relationships, with people in order to change the world. At the end there was time for Q&A. Many people understood the need for connecting with people who are hurting, lost or in the midst of struggle. However, many questions were geared to how to engage and connect with the people the see everyday.

     Many people felt unqualified to help others. The presenter said that someone asked him once what made him qualified to help others and he responded, “because I have a pulse.” We often underestimate our ability to simply be with people. You are qualified, you have a passion, you have talents and you are surrounded by people all the time. Sometimes, all we need to do is be vulnerable enough to invite someone else into our lives. Through this invitation we can connect with people. 

     Having a hard time figuring out how? Start small. Learn a persons name. There is power in a name, the feeling of being known by someone. Ask questions to get to know them. Go do something with them; share a meal, or go volunteer together, anything to allow proximity. Then, be vulnerable to share about yourself first.

     Impacting the lives of others impacts our own lives too. We are able to grow and learn along with the people that we interact with. Maybe you’re a mentor, a teacher, a volunteer or an advocate, your proximity to other people rubs off on you. It is meant to. Rubbing shoulders with people can be messy, don’t be afraid. When you walk with people through life the learning is reciprocal. 

     Don’t go into a relationship hoping to fix someone, go in just to be with them. When we go in with our own expectations and our own agendas we miss the opportunity to simply be with someone else. There may be frustration when they make a decision we don’t agree with or relapse into an old habit. If we have our own agendas we will be tempted to simply walk away. When we walk away from another we lose the opportunity to share life together. 

     Life change is not a sprint it is a marathon. Love over time. Sometimes a very long time. Connecting with people, especially those who society has pushed to the margins, is what life is about. Go after authentic relationships, have great conversations, get messy and laugh. You are qualified, you have a pulse.

Dreamers

#misfits, community, life, Ministry, misfits, purpose, stories, Student Ministry, Uncategorized

dreams

 

When I close my eyes and think what God wants me to do I always get the same image in my brain. The same ideas, the same processes, and the same passion. It’s a dream that He’s given me. To be honest, I get scared that my dream will simply be a dream. There are things I am doing right now thought to make it happen.

I talk about my dream a lot. Honestly, I do this just to simply keep me accountable. I don’t want the dream to die so I figure if I talk about it then there is still hope for it to be. People have started to ask me questions about it in conversation and I love processing new ideas with people. A friend randomly gave me a tool I needed to start on one aspect of it. It was probably the coolest thing ever. 

I am doing a lot to learn. I am basing my research papers for grad school on issues regarding my dream. I email random experts in different fields asking them questions just trying to just learn things. I always just have this thought that if they don’t respond or if I get shut down then I am exactly where I am currently. Nothing to lose, everything to gain.

I take small steps. I look at what other people are doing in their businesses, or in chasing their own dreams, and I do what I can. I start with social media, or blogging. I try to network with other people and get ideas from them. I plan a lot, write curriculum or fill out forms (in a lot of dreams you end up filling out some sort of form). It keeps me hungry and I know it may not be today or tomorrow but it is going to happen.

Fear ultimately is my biggest enemy. Fear leading to doubt which leads to inaction. That it is a dumb idea, how can I support a family on a dream or that voice that says I am too messed up to even think about something good for myself. I like to tell that voice to shut up (and a few other choice words).

What is your dream? What do you think your purpose is in life? Maybe it is a new career path. Maybe it is to travel more, or to learn a new skill. What are the little things you can do to take steps to seeing it become real. I may not happen in a day, but keep chipping away at it. The biggest advice I got was to do a few small things every day towards your goals, your dream.  These are called low cost probes. Little steps that give you a lot of reward. Experience, knowledge, insight, just about anything that will get you closer to your end goal. Then, go for it.

I would love to hear about your dream. Love for you to hear about mine. Share ideas, help one another and encourage one another to allow dreams to be reality. Comment here or text me 585-441-4610, can’t wait to here what dreams you’re chasing. 

For Our Neighbors

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

 

We Misfits are for our neighbors. So are our friends at Orange. Every year they put on a conference in Atlanta that challenges and grows people to engage the world around them in a different way. Orange helps churches to build relationships with kids and their families to grow their faith in Jesus. This year they are using those relationships to not just engage the families but the communities they are a part of.

The theme for this years conference is “For Our Neighbors.” I am really excited for it. Neighbors, that means, people who just don’t quite fit in, the rebels, the dreamers and the innovators, and us Misfits. We are also for the people who are like us and for those who are not like us, equally. Being “For Your Neighbor” means helping someone else win, even when we don’t always agree with them. Being “For Your Neighbor” means supporting someone else, whether they are right next door or across the globe. “For Your Neighbor” means supporting someone, showing up for them, even when they are different then ourselves.

Orange wants us to be for our neighbors and we agree. We want our communities to be transformed and for people to see Jesus in new way. Maybe you’re reading this and you hate God and you hate church. You’ve been hurt there before, your trust was broken, someone lied to you or you just don’t believe in the same things. That’s fine, I’ve experienced those same things in church. But what if this conference helped change your ideas and transform churches. What if churches were a place where kids and families could build friendships, where churches knew how to help when something goes wrong in our communities and could restore hope back into the lives of their neighbors and to the cities they are a part of. I would be for that.

If you’re interested in learning more about Orange Conference head to

https://theorangeconference.com/

 

We are all part of this world and we are called to be for our neighbors. Lets come together and learn how to do that better. See you there.