02.23.15

A Teenager’s View on Social Media by Andrew Watts

Written by an actual teen

https://medium.com/backchannel/a-teenagers-view-on-social-media-1df945c09ac6

I read technology articles quite often and see plenty of authors attempt to dissect or describe the teenage audience, especially in regards to social media. However, I have yet to see a teenager contribute their voice to this discussion. This is where I would like to provide my own humble opinion.

For transparency, I am a 19-year-old male attending The University of Texas at Austin. I am extremely interested in social media’s role in our society as well as how it is currently evolving. Thus, the views I provide here are my own, but do stem from observation of not only my own habits but my peers’ habits as well.

This article will not use any studies, data, sources, etc. This is because you can easily get that from any other technology news website and analyze from there. I’m here to provide a different view based off of my life in this “highly coveted” age bracket. That being said, I’m not an expert at this by a long shot and I’m sure there will be data that disproves some of the points I make, but this is just what I’ve noticed.

I think the best way to approach this would be to break it down by social media network and the observations/viewpoints I’ve gathered over the years. Continue reading

02.23.15

Six Steps to Help Students Practice Better Emotional Hygiene by Tim Elmore

http://growingleaders.com/blog/six-steps-help-students-practice-better-emotional-hygiene/?utm_source=Master+List+%28Monthly%2C+Weekly%2C+Daily%2C+Events+%26+Offers%29&utm_campaign=b0dc33a670-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b8af65516c-b0dc33a670-304414745

Studies show that 27% of college-age kids experience some type of mental health problem. The issues we hear most about are anxiety disorder, eating disorders and depression. Parents and students should know that suicide is the second-leading cause of death for college students, and the main reason is untreated depression. “Emotional issues that were absent, controlled, or hidden in high school may start to cause problems in this new environment,” says Guy Napolitana, MD, chairman at the Lahey Clinic at Tufts University School of Medicine.

Six Steps to Good Emotional Hygiene 

Certainly not every student can avoid emotional illness—but the steps below are important ones we can help them take to have better emotional health in their lives. Psychologist Guy Winch, PhD, reminds us that we all understand dental hygiene, which includes brushing our teeth and flossing. Sadly, few of us practice emotional hygiene, which is far more important in the long run. Here is a starting point below: Continue reading

02.23.15

5 Qualities of a Good Rule by Mark Gregston

http://www.heartlightministries.org/blogs/markgregston/?utm_source=FINAL+Five+Qualities+of+a+Good+Rule+2%2F17%2F15&utm_campaign=Five+Qualities+of+a+Good+Rule+2%2F17%2F15&utm_medium=email

Years ago, we had several boys living with us in our home. They were assigned their own bathroom, but based on the worsening condition of those facilities, I realized these guys needed some help exercising maturity and self-control. I told them, “Fellas, from now on, you need to clean your own toilet and keep this bathroom tidy. If not, you could lose it.” Unfortunately, they ignored the rule and the mess got even worse. So, one day, I just took the entire toilet out! The toilet needed to be replaced anyway, but the boys didn’t need to know that. I thought not having it for a while would be a good learning experience for them.

When the boys got home from school, there was nothing but a little hole in the floor where the messy toilet used to stand. In disbelief, they asked me, “Where are we supposed to go?” I said, “I’m sorry, the rule was that you needed to keep the bathroom clean, and if you didn’t, you couldn’t have it.” Well, after a few days of dealing with just a hole in the ground, the boys came back to me and asked, “What do we need to do to get our toilet back?” Once they experienced the consequences, they saw the value of the rule, and put in the work necessary to reclaim their bathroom.

Rules are not just about getting the chores done, cleaning the house (or making it smell better). Like the story of the boys’ toilet, rules give us the opportunity to teach our teens important life principles about responsibility. So how do you know that the rules of your house are helping your kids instead of hurting them? Let me offer five essential characteristics of a good rule.

1. Rules Should Be Relevant

Boundaries that were necessary and acceptable when your child was seven will likely be outdated when he is seventeen. Good rules flex and grow along with your child. I believe that nothing good happens for a teenager after midnight, so curfews are a good boundary to establish. But while a 9 o’clock curfew is great for a 13-year-old, it’s probably too early for a sixteen-year-old. Good rules help our teens learn to make good decisions for themselves and wean them from their dependency on mom and dad. This happens when our rules stay relevant and current with the age and maturity of our child.

2. Rules Should Be Attainable

As parents, we all want great things for our kids. Encouraging your son or daughter to succeed is good, but if reaching a particular expectation set up by mom and dad seems impossible, a teen will shut down, quit or rebel. Our rules should be about getting kids where they need to go, and keeping them from where they shouldn’t be. So the rules we set up should be realistic and reasonable, allowing teens to fulfill (or maybe even exceed) expectations. You could reasonably say, “If you get a ‘D’ in any class, then we have to take away your cell phone for a week.” That’s a logical goal to shoot for. But if you insist, “Get straight A’s or you lose your cellphone for a week!” that expectation may be too demanding for your teen. It would be unfair to make your 8-year-old mow the lawn every week. But it’s an attainable goal to have your 14-year-old do some landscaping on the weekend. A good rule is always within reach for your child.

3. Rules Should Be Beneficial

Think about some of the rules in your house and ask yourself, “Will this help build up my kids’ character and cause them to become more mature and responsible?” If the answer is “no”, then you probably need to rethink that rule and your motivation for wanting to make it a rule. Good boundaries grow out of a good relationship with your child. It’s not about exerting control, wielding authority, or keeping your teen under your thumb. You want to help your teen become a dependable and responsible adult, and the rules of your home should be designed to get your son or daughter to that place. If the rule is not helpful, it may be time to toss it aside.

4. Rules Should Make Sense

Mom and dad … rules need to make sense. We can all remember rules set down by our own parents that made no sense at all. I can remember being told I was not allowed to grow my hair past my earlobes. Even as a teen I asked, “Why not?” It wasn’t because I was rebellious or wanted to shock people—I just wanted to fit in with the guys at my school who had cool, long hair. We need to listen to our teens and honestly hear their objections to some of the long-standing rules we’ve put in place. It’s not enough to say, “Do it because I said so!” Your teen might not be able to understand how a rule is beneficial, but you should have a logical reason for every rule, and be able to explain that reason to your teenager. If not, the rule doesn’t make sense and should be scrapped.

5. Rules Should Come From a Place of Love

I said it before, but it’s so true—Rules without relationship lead to rebellion. If there is no love but a lot of boundaries, that’s legalism, and kids feel stifled and smothered. If there is plenty of love but no boundaries, then there’s no structure, and kids go out-of-control. Good rules grow out of a loving willingness to provide guidance.

We were playing paintball with some kids at Heartlight, and the teens love plastering me with paint. When we were finished, I was surprised to find one of the boys refusing to clean his equipment. I went up to him and said, “We had a good time, and you know the rule for the course—everybody cleans their own equipment.” With a verbal onslaught, the young man told me he simply wasn’t going to do that. I remained calm and said to him, “Now we have another problem. In addition to breaking the equipment cleaning rule, you are also being disrespectful.” Then I laid out the consequences for breaking the rules. After a couple of days raking pine needles, the teen came to me and apologized. I brought the lesson home and reaffirmed him by saying, “You are a good man, but the way you responded in these situations hurts your relationships with the people you’re closest to. I want something better for you. By the way, this lesson is not about cleaning the stupid paintball stuff. This is about helping you be successful in life.

It’s true that a bad rule can hurt a child. But a good rule, in the hands of a loving parent, can be the best thing in the life of a teen.

02.23.15

American Tragedy: 54% of Teens Lack Crucial Ingredient by Greg Corombos

‘Having effects socially, culturally and health-wise for too many’

http://www.wnd.com/2015/02/american-tragedy-54-of-teens-lack-crucial-ingredient/#i9ZgbhbY7FGEtly3.99

More than half of American teenagers do not live with married parents, and the family will be destroyed in this country if the U.S. doesn’t start championing marriage and stop rewarding people for having children out of wedlock, according to a new report from the Family Research Council’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute.

“The Fifth Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection” shows just 46 percent of American teens between the ages of 15 and 17 have grown up with their biological parents always married. For black adolescents, the statistics are far worse.

“This index is particularly acute at a chronic level in the African-American community, where only 17 percent of black teenagers, compared to 54 percent of white teenagers, are being raised in intact families, and this marks a 21 percent decrease in family belongingness for black teenagers since 1950,” said Ken Blackwell, senior fellow in family empowerment at the Family Research Council.

Blackwell said these worsening numbers carry a whole raft of negative consequences with them.

“It means that we are a nation at risk because there are so many positive benefits of children being nurtured and raised in intact families that too many of our people are missing,” Blackwell said. “It’s having effects socially, culturally and health-wise for too many of our youngsters. And it has an effect on criminality.”

He said this societal breakdown has happened before.

“We are going to be suffering from the same sort of family breakdown that we find in totalitarian, authoritarian and real major welfare states,” Blackwell said.

“If you look at it across history, there are two things that totalitarian and authoritarian states have done. They’ve weakened or destroyed the family, and they have silenced the church, creating a greater dependency on government,” said Blackwell, who argued that the U.S. is barreling down this ill-advised road by different means.

“That is happening in our country, not through totalitarianism or authoritarianism, but through the rapid expansion of the welfare state,” he said. “It’s having the same disastrous effect in terms of the destruction of the family and the explosive growth in the number of people who are dependent on the government. What we know from historical experience is that the intact family is the incubator of liberty.”

Blackwell said the biggest problem with government dependency is that it encourages people to make bad decisions.

“The welfare state has an incentive system for families to separate, as opposed to encouraging the intactness of families or maintaining the intactness of families,” he said. “Welfare states tend to reward families that are not intact. As a consequence, if you want more of something, you reward it.”

So how can the tide of broken homes be reversed? Blackwell said it will require all hands on deck.

“We know that if we reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births by encouraging young people to refrain from sexual activity until they are married, if we have every institution in our culture supporting a marriage between one man and one woman and if we encourage our young people to stay in school and get a decent education, then we know we can reverse this trend,” Blackwell said.

One of those key factors will soon be in front of the Supreme Court. Blackwell reiterated that the numerous benefits of intact marriages are directly linked to strong traditional marriages.

“We’re not going to reverse this trend if we redefine marriage as something other than the natural design of marriage,” he said.

02.17.15

TD Conference 2015 – Teen TD’s “Best Practices” and Ideas

The Talk

Work to personalize the lesson, use Images

Embrace the struggle-lots of times God allows us to learn the things we teach

Be Relatable-Share appropriate stories about your own failures and successes

Have a word or phrase that will jog your brain for each minute of your talk. (i.e. ten words or ten phrases to guide you through your ten minute talk—for more on this, talk to Dusty)

Idea’s for staying on time:

  • Have your coordinator or someone else use the colors of the stoplight to communicate the time you have left. (Yellow for 2 or 3 minutes left and Red for running out of time)

Shepherding Ideas

We live in a Texting generation. Text verses, questions, thoughts, encouragements. Surprise them with an “old school” handwritten note in the mail? (we haven’t found anyone yet that doesn’t like this.)

Ask the question, “How can we pray for you this week?” Then ask them about that “prayer request” the next time you see them.

Shepherding Leaders (Best Practices)

  • 1st ____ of the month (or whatever works) meet for breakfast, coffee or some other food option. One of the leaders has everyone over to his house and he cooks breakfast for them each month. Don’t underestimate the power of hospitality and what it can do to unify and strengthen the relationships of the leaders. This models awesome servant leadership and helps to activate shepherding which always starts from the top.

Ideas for Growing the Class

Pray—Pray—Pray. Develop a prayer strategy. Think about having someone fast on the day that you meet. This doesn’t have to be the same person each week. You might seek to find 4 prayer warriors who would commit to this once per month and therefore cover this ministry for the whole class year.

One of the best ways to grow your class- Love the ones who are there extremely well. They will feel the love and want their friends to experience it!

Encourage every kid to invite one person-Each one reach one.

Written Invitation or Postcard, txt, phone call, facebook, tweet or carrier pigeon.

Dusty had a great “little tri-fold brochure that easily fits into your student’s pocket.

Make a “How not to invite new friends video” to have fun with this concept while making it memorable. People remember things that they laugh about with others.

More Ways to Shoot Roots Deeper

Utilize Alumni—Some have even created a video with Alumni, Share God Sightings

Life in a Box- a student or leader brings a box with a few things that represent who they are and share them with the group as an opening perhaps?

Fabulous 15- Call the first 15 minutes of the night the “FABULOUS 15” do a variety of things that keep interest up during the first 15 minutes of the night (skits, worship, games, testimonies) Keeps them excited about what will be happening each week during the “Fabulous 15.”

Holywood Squares—(I can’t remember which leader gave this idea, but it would be fun to have the particulars!)

Think of creative ways to encourage scripture memory.

If you know someone in the community who has a heart for teens and is a growing Christian—you might consider having them come give a short 5 minute testimony for an opening or such. This could serve two purposes. One, it will encourage everyone and Two, this person may be a new Teen CBS ministry volunteer.

Lessons (How do you encourage kids to complete their lesson?)

We had a number of ideas from our leaders on this. There was everything from friendly competitions, to traveling trophy’s to tickets that allow them to purchase things, etc.. One of the best things I’ve seen is leaders meeting their kids for coffee or a coke and working on the lesson with them. You might have a standing time where kids can meet at the coffee shop. (Ideally, you have a couple adults who partake in this, so if one can’t make it, there will always be an adult there. Additionally, you may think about empowering kids to lead one of these small informal “study times” at a fun location.

Thanks again for your “best practices” and ideas.

02.17.15

Has Parenting Become a Religion? and Mastering the Art of Tough Love by Tim Elmore

http://growingleaders.com/blog/has-parenting-become-religion/

I just finished speaking at a school, where I did an event for students, faculty, parents and community leaders. It was refreshing to talk to such engaging audiences, both adults and kids. After my parent workshop, one mom approached me with a comment that stopped me in my tracks. She said, “Don’t you think part of our problem today in America is that parenting has become a religion?”

Wow. Her remark made me pause to think.

I think I agree. Let me tell you why.

We’ve all seen the signs of this emerging “religion” over the last thirty years:

  • Baby On Board Signs on the back of the mini-van.
  • “My Kid is a Super Kid at ABC Elementary School” bumper stickers.
  • Trophies and ribbons are given away just for playing on a team.
  • Blockbuster movies where kids not only the stars… but also the heroes.
  • Entire restaurants and TV networks devoted solely to children.
  • Television programs all about parenthood as the primary theme.
  • Parents acting like “agents” at school plays or little league games.

Yep. Kids are front and center in our minds. Anything less is politically incorrect. Children have actually become the new “scorecard” for our success as adults, and now, parenthood is acting like a religion.

Why and How I Think It Began

I remember watching early Baby Boomers surrender to narcissism. In the 1960’s, young adults gave in to a pursuit of finding themselves through carefree living, drugs, and rock and roll. Millions of them grew to regret it and returned to more traditional lifestyles of marriage and family. They began raising children with the mantra: “Do as I say, don’t do as I did.” They determined to do a 180-degree turnaround.

Afterward came Generation X, who also watched the self-absorbed early life of the Boomers and decided that as they raise kids, they’d do the opposite. They would focus on raising children who are happy, who have high self-esteem, and who are safe within their nurturing arms. Having been the children of those early Boomers, they reacted by focusing on being good parents. Children became the obsession of adults, and most of us unwittingly joined the religion.

If you know me, you know I absolutely love kids—that’s why I work with them. So I feel a need to call out this elephant in the room:

Making kids the center of attention is not healthy for them or you.

No doubt, there are benefits to making parenthood a “religion.” It reminds us of our priorities—children need us to invest our time developing them. At the same time, there are vivid pitfalls as well:

  • Adults who don’t feel free to honestly express their feelings about kids are less likely to resolve problems with their kids at home.
  • Kids who are raised to believe they are the center of the world have a tough time entering adulthood, where that special status evaporates.
  • Couples who live child-centric lives often lose touch with each other and tend to have nothing in common as kids leave home. (No wonder kids return.)
  • Young people don’t have the maturity to handle the weight of their parents’ happiness rising and falling with their performance.

May I tell you what I see this “religion” doing to the fabric of our lives?

  1. It’s hindering relationships between teachers and parents.
  2. It’s ruining marriages, where children step in between spouses.
  3. It’s hindering neighborhood sports programs, dividing parents over kids.
  4. It’s negatively impacting employers who can’t find career-ready grads.

Call me a heretic, but I think it actually helps (rather than hinders) a child’s emotional security to see their parents prioritize their love for each other, as husband and wife. In this safe haven where they see this modeled, they become secure and don’t feel the need to be the source of everyone’s happiness. Children take their proper role as part of the family… not the “star” of the family.

Mastering the Art of Tough Love

Yesterday, I blogged about how parenting has become a “religion” in America, where children have become the absolute centerpiece of the home and nothing negative can be said about them. Yep. Some time between our childhood and the moment we had children of our own, parenthood became a religion. As with many religions, complete, unthinking devotion is required from its practitioners. Nothing in life is allowed to be more important than our children, and we must never speak a disloyal word about our relationship with them. If someone says or does anything contrary, they are not welcomed into civil discussion but persecuted and judged as a heretic. Hmmm. Sounds like an unhealthy religion to me.

We all know, however, that parents are the key to young people. Parents and kids are joined at the hip. Although freshmen are officially adults, colleges now cater to parents, knowing they must please them if they want to keep the customer. The average parent is in touch with their college student between 7-11 times daily.

Some employers are now catering to parents, too, having conversations with a mom or dad over the interview they just had with their newly-minted college graduate. Supposedly, nearly one in eight young job candidates now bring a parent to the interview.

And if that wasn’t enough, I recently saw a TV commercial in which the U.S. Army was attempting to recruit potential soldiers. But instead of targeting the potential recruit, they targeted their parents in the message. Yes, not the actual candidate who’ll be joining, but mom and dad. The message? Your son or daughter doesn’t actually have to do something violent. There are plenty of military jobs that are safe. In my opinion, this is a picture of a growing trend where vendors assume mom and dad will continue to treat their adult children… as children.

The Facts of the Matter

Let me share with you why this is a problem:

  1. More and more from Generation iY are moving into adulthood unready. An over-functioning parent disables their child in the end. Kids get stuck.
  2.  The primary reason for this is we’ve failed to help them navigate their journey. We’ve not been healthy leaders who both “support” and “let go.”
  3.  We’ve come to believe that our kids must always feel wonderful about themselves and should never experience the negative feelings of failure and disappointment life brings.
  4.  This conclusion leaves kids without tools to function in the adult world. Their childhood looks nothing like adulthood, so they return home.
  5.  All along, they needed caring adults who were both responsive and demanding. Sadly, we assumed they were fragile, or that we’d ruin them if we got tough.
  6.  In the end, we believed: if we are too tough, we have failed to love them well. Unfortunately, this mindset has set them up to be ambushed by the realities of adulthood.

Puzzle Pieces and Box Tops

The truth is, every student needs caring adults (teachers, coaches and parents) who collaborate in their messaging. Kids need to hear about Puzzle Pieces and Box Tops. This is a new Habitude that will be released in 2015 and reminds students of this truth: It is almost impossible to put a puzzle together (especially if there are many pieces) if you don’t have a box top to see the big picture. The only way you’ll know where to place a piece is to see where it fits, and the only way you can see where it fits is to see the whole picture. In light of this truth, we must communicate to our young people:

“You play an important role, but you’re part of a bigger picture… and you may not be the center of it. You may play a supporting role, but that’s OK. It is more rewarding to play a role in a much bigger story than to be the center of a tiny, one-person show.”

Reminders About What Real Love Looks Like

  1. If I really love my students, I am honest with them. I don’t paint a dishonest picture about their giftedness or beauty. I speak lovingly but truthfully.
  2. If I love my students, I’ll care enough to offer them clear direction, even if it’s unpopular at the time. It’s more important to be their leader than their buddy.
  3. If I really love my students, I don’t always give them what they want but what they need. I recognize they’ll choose ice cream over vegetables, so I help them make better choices until they’re ready to do so themselves.
  4. If I love my students, I want them to respect me now even more than love me. I know they will appreciate me at age 30, so I’m willing to lead them now so they grow into healthy adults.
  5. If I really love students, I will help them see the long-term ripple effect of their decisions. I teach them to “pay now and play later.”
  6. If I really love students, I provide discipline, but more than that, I teach them to discipline themselves so someone else doesn’t have to.

Did you know that most Japanese schools don’t have janitors? Instead, the children do the cleaning daily to associate cleaning with morality. They believe it builds a work ethic, where as we Americans would see this as child abuse.

02.17.15

The Problem With CliffsNotes Christianity by Angie Franklin

https://www.leadertreks.org/problem-cliffsnotes-christianity/

I am guilty. CliffsNotes were a must-have in my educational experience. Back before you could download any book you wanted onto a Kindle, I would race to Borders just before it closed to grab the CliffsNotes title I needed for a test the next day. In 45 minutes, I could know everything I needed to pass the test.

Yet while these study guides helped me get good grades, they didn’t convey the heart of the author’s message. Everything was reduced to a bullet point: the suspense, humor, romance, drama. I memorized those things but never experienced them—like hearing a friend describe a roller coaster but refusing to ride it for myself. Or like reading someone’s resume instead of reading their journal.

When it comes to growing our youth up in the Bible, we often start with the CliffsNotes version. We lay out the basics in a format that’s easy to relay and remember. We add in a few new basics every year: God is love. We are sinners. Purity is important. Forgiveness is good. Words hurt.

But biblical CliffsNotes aren’t enough to convey the heart of the Author’s message. They aren’t enough to prepare students to withstand life’s storms and doubts, because bullet points won’t help students know Jesus intimately or anchor them in him. Sure, biblical CliffsNotes can give students all the right answers. But can students walk in step with their Savior without encountering him through Scripture itself? The problem with bullet points is that they leave gaps, and students will be filling those gaps with assumptions as they write their own spiritual essays.

Students need to know the God they’ve “prayed the prayer” to. They need to feel the compassion that comes from the bloodied lips of an innocent man hanging on a cross who asked a friend to care for his mother (John 19:25–27). They need to experience the awe of a God who suspended the sun well into the night over Joshua (Josh. 10:13) and fueled Elijah for a world record race (1 Kings 18:46). They also need to know the anger that turned tables in the temple (Matt. 21:12), and the humility of a man who rode a donkey through the streets (John 12:14). The full picture of Jesus is missing from any CliffsNotes version. God’s redemption story is more complex than that. The one who calls our students (and us) to give our lives and carry our crosses needs more of an introduction than that.

This is why discipleship—life-on-life spiritual mentoring—is so important in youth ministry. And while there are many ways to get past the biblical CliffsNotes when it comes to growing our students in Christ, here are a few that I’ve seen youth workers adopt. Continue reading

02.17.15

6 Biblical Truths to Teach Your Teen About Respect by Dan Darling

http://www.lifeway.com/Article/biblical-truths-to-teach-your-teen-about-respect?emid=content-weeklyupdate-featured3-teach-your-teen-20150211

It’s a tough world out there for teenagers.

The pressures of adolescence have always been a difficult crucible for young people but today it seems easier to be victimized and a perpetrator of verbal violence. Parents have an increasingly difficult job in protecting their children from bullying and raising kids who respect the unique human dignity of all people. It’s a difficult job.

But it’s possible.

Raising your teen to respect other people begins with Scripture. Here are six foundational truths every parent must instill in their children when it comes to valuing others.

1. Every single human being is worthy of respect and dignity.

People don’t have worth because they agree with us, they have worth because they are humans created in the image of God.

Christians don’t always practice this well. Too often we think the rightness of our argument gives us license to denigrate the person with whom we disagree. We make our arguments cutting and personal. But when we do this, we are not just sinning against the other person; we are sinning against the Creator God who fashioned that person in His likeness (Jas. 3:9).

2. There is a way to exhibit both courage and civility.

Respecting someone is not the same as affirming everything he or she may believe. In the Book of 1 Peter, it says that followers of Christ should be “ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you … with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15-16).

Our highly opinionated culture often confuses courage with incivility, but high volume does not equal bravery. Because our confidence is in the gospel, we don’t have to resort to the personal or the petty.

3. The gospel not only shapes what we say, but how we say it.

There should be a distinct flavor in the way that Christians speak. Every argument, every conversation, every social media post should include grace.

In Colossians 4:6 it says “Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.”

4. Our judgements of others reflect our own fallenness.

One reason we sometimes disparage others and reduce them to less-than-human is because we’ve forgotten our own fallen state.

Romans 3 reminds us that everyone is a sinner fallen short of God’s glory. That person with whom we disagree or the person who hurts us is no less a worthy recipient of God’s saving mercy. This is why Romans 12:3 warns against thinking “of himself more highly than he should think.” Pride is a gateway to verbal sin.

5. We demonstrate our love for God by loving others.

When Jesus called Peter back to ministry in John 21, how did He say that Peter could best express his love for Christ? By taking care of God’s people.

There is no separation between love of God and love of neighbor. This has always been the way of the Master, from the Old Testament connection between the horizontal and the vertical (Ex. 20) to Jesus’ call to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

We are naturally a narcissistic people, but the gospel calls us back again and again to care for our fellow man at least as much as we care about ourselves.

6. God cares about the way we treat our leaders.

1 Peter 2:17 says something interesting: “Honor the Emperor.”

This was not a call to simply respect the public figure. The recipients of the letter—first-century Christians living in the Roman Empire—were commanded to honor their Roman overlords, particularly the rulers who would likely have them rounded up and killed.

So is it possible to honor ungodly rulers?

Only if you believe that the powers are “instituted by God” (Rom. 13:1), or if you believe in the sovereignty of God so strongly that your worldview is not shaken by the temporary power structures of man. So imagine how this command from Peter might shape the way we discuss our political leaders (especially those who frequently disappoint).

How might this impact the things we post online about the President or members of Congress? Or the way we speak about politics? No matter what the subject, we should embody the counter-cultural claims of our risen King.

Final Thoughts: Be Intentional at Home

How do we embed these foundational leadership truths in the hearts of our children? Sometimes we do this through intentional times of family worship where we connect the Word of God to the nitty-gritty of life.

The most important lessons will likely come as our kids watch the way we live out the gospel and the way we treat other human beings. Children will model in their own lives the lessons we are teaching them by our own behavior.

If we marginalize people groups, strip others of their human dignity with our words and tear down those with whom we disagree, we can’t expect our children to do anything differently. However, if we faithfully display Christ-like love and respect, this kind of behavior will become instilled in the multiple generations after us.

02.09.15

The Volunteer Cyce #1: It Never Ends! by Kurt Johnston

http://youthministry.com/the-volunteer-cycle-1-it-never-ends/#sthash.K9Jj3Tcg.dpuf

It seems that other than figuring out how One Direction is still so popular, few things weigh as heavily on the mind of the youth worker than volunteer leaders. The specifics vary from ministry to ministry, but the themes seem to be the same:

“How do I find more leaders to join our team?”

“How do I train them, and when, and on what subjects?”

“What roles should they play? What roles should they not be allowed to play?”

“How do I keep them around for the long haul?”

These four questions outline the four parts of what I call the “Volunteer Cycle,” the never-ending (repeat, NEVER-ENDING) process that leaders of a youth ministry need to be engaged in.  The Volunteer Cycle serves both as a state of mind you live in; meaning you are always thinking about the cycle when you think about your volunteers, as well as a formal mechanism or tool you implement into your volunteer strategy.

If you want to build and maintain a healthy, striving volunteer team you need to:

ENLIST: Continually invite new people to join.

EQUIP: Continually train your volunteers effectively and give them the skills and confidence they need.

EMPOWER: Continually give ministry away.

ENCOURAGE: Continually cheer them on.

Building a volunteer team is messy, important, stuff. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be the primary topic at conversation every time youth workers get together.

And while there’s no silver bullet….no guaranteed solution to the challenge, I think the Volunteer Cycle is as close as it gets.

02.09.15

4 Valuable Lessons on Children and Bible Reading by Todd Brady

http://www.lifeway.com/Article/valuable-lessons-on-children-and-bible-reading?emid=Content-WeeklyUpdate-Featured3-children-and-bible-reading-20150204

Growing a gospel-centered family requires firm footing on the foundation of God’s Word. One of the ways a child gains firm footing is through the regular reading of God’s Word. In our high-tech world, electronics, handheld devices and bright screens are often more appealing to children than picking up a book of any kind.

In the midst of this technological culture, my wife and I want our five boys (two elementary-age school readers, two kindergarteners, and one toddler) to love reading—and particularly to love reading the Bible.

Since God has revealed Himself through the written Word, Christians must be readers of the Bible. Christian parents have an opportunity to lead their children to become avid Bible readers. Here are a few things you should know about cultivating a climate of Bible reading in your home. Continue reading