Movin' on Up (to Wordpress)
After a lot of research and experimenting with different platforms, I have decided to
move my blog from Typepad to Wordpress. My new blog is located at www.bigbaldspeaker.com/wordpress. The roypetitfils.com URL is being transferred and it should direct you to the new site within a week. In the meantime, bigbaldspeaker.com/wordpress is where all future posts, etc. will be made.
For those of you who subscribe to my blog via email and/or RSS the current "feed" you are receiving will no longer work. Please take a minute by clicking here and re-entering your email address in the box in the appropriate boxes (see photo below of new blog home page). I don't know what my posting schedule will be like in the future, but I expect that it will be more frequent (2-3 times per week).
In a post entitled What Catholic Teachers Can Learn From Guitarist Phil Keaggy, Nick Senger at the Catholic School Chronicles suggested five ways teachers can emulate the accomplished musician. Below is an excerpt taken from Nick's post:
I encourage you to read his whole post. I think the point about enjoying our work/ministry is especially important. Young people don’t need another frustrated, bitter and burned out teacher–especially ones in Catholic schools representing God and the Church. Mother Teresa would echo this sentiment to her new aspirants “As Missionaries of Charity we serve Jesus in the poor–with joy. There is much work to do–difficult work to do, but we must do it with joy, with a smile. The poor have enough problems–they need the Joy of Christ that comes through us.” The same can be said of our young people many of whom are spiritually and emotionally poor if not financially. They need our joy--the Joy that comes only from Christ.
Two bloggers I read regularly both posted recently on various aspects of complacency in the spirtual life and ministry.
Mike Patin, sudoku ninja, speaker and author, who is emceeing this year's National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry in New Orleans, LA (and in 2011 will be Keynoting the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis, IN) blogged on the temptation to grow complacent in the spiritual life:
"It is really easy for me with life’s brisk pace, as well as having a “job” that has a spiritual side to it, to get complacent. It is so easy to lose focus on God and family, both of whom are SO CLOSE that I can forget to share love, and time, and possessions with them as well as others who are close and who come across my path. It’s like I fall in love with my activity more than God and the people I am given to show his love."
Read his whole post. Its great, especially the quote about from the Patriots Superbowl Lockerroom.
Josh Griffin, who blogs at More than Dodgeball, reminds ministers that we will never "arrive." There will be no point when all God's work is done and we can relax. We must continue growing, stretching and learning. There will always be challenges and opportunities to follow Christ more closely and love him more deeply. Josh writes:
You may get closer to the goal, but you’ll never really get there. You’re not supposed to. You need to be OK with that fact. Youth ministry is about seasons of success, seasons of failure, busy seasons and busier seasons. Youth ministry is good, bad and ugly all wrapped into one. You will never arrive – God’s church and your leadership will always be a work in progress. Read the whole post here.
Wearing sandals, tattered jeans and a hideous tropical shirt Mike Yaconelli, (aka "Yac") peered over his glasses at a group of youthworkers gathered for an early morning bible study. With mischievous grin and twinkling eyes—an obvious “tell” for those who knew him that he was about to “upset the applecart", he said:
“We’ve worked hard to make sure that you have an amazing experience. We hope you’ll take advantage the opportunity to acquire new tools, tricks and tips from the best resources and presenters we could find in an effort to help you lead young people to Jesus. That being said remember that your relationship with Jesus is your youth ministry.”
His point was clear. We could amass the latest and greatest resources, skills and strategies but without an abiding, personal relationship with Jesus our ministry would be shallow and minimally effective at best.
This is not only true for youth ministry.
Your relationship with Jesus is your teaching.
Your relationship with Jesus is your administration.
Your relationship with Jesus is your parenting.
Your relationship with Jesus is your counseling.
Your relationship with Jesus is your coaching.
Your relationship with Jesus is your mentoring.
Your relationship with Jesus is your spiritual direction.
Your relationship with Jesus is your music ministry.
Your relationship with Jesus is your speaking.
Your relationship with Jesus is your consulting.
Your relationship with Jesus is your mission work.
Your relationship with Jesus is your campus ministry.
The marginalized, the lost and the sick do not need more ministers. They need Jesus.
Our "ministries" are not Jesus. They are a means for us to be Christ for others. That only happens when we first allow Jesus to be Christ for us.
Check out this clip below of Yac at his best.
Karl Fisch a 20-year veteran teacher at Arapahoe High School in Colorado, and co-creator of one of the most viral videos on the web Shift Happens (Did You Know) has "flipped" the way he teaches math. Traditional teaching involves presenting lessons during the school day and sending students home to work on problems. Karl instead is videoing his lessons and uploading them to Youtube for students to watch at home. He uses class time the following day to answer questions and help students work on problems together.
Daniel Pink, in an interview with Fisch quotes him, “When you do a standard lecture in class, and then the students go home to do the problems, some of them are lost. They spend a whole lot of time being frustrated and, even worse, doing it wrong.”
And while most of us have expanded our ministry tool box to include other strategies, processes and delivery systems other than a “talk”, there are millions of youth every week sitting on terazzo tiled floors listening to "talks" they could watch online.
A few questions:
This doesn’t have to replace face time with our families, staffs, volunteers, teens—but it should be another “tool” in our box to share the gospel with youth and their families.
Consult. Professional counselors, other more experienced parents you trust to gauge the severity of the issue. Sometimes we feel weak and insufficient by asking others for help. There is NO instruction manual. The best parents, teachers and ministers did not grow in a vacuum--their growth is a result of shared wisdom.
Reflect on your experience. If applicable, how did you deal with this or a similar issue? What lessons did you learn? What did others do for you that seemed helpful? What did others do for you that didn't work?
Pray. Sometimes this most obvious of solutions gets tossed aside because it seems impractical. Allow God the Wonder Counselor to comment on the situation and offer his two cents.
Learn. I amazes me how many people complain about not understanding kids but don't read books, blogs, listen to CD's, mp3's or attend workshops and seminars. One more episode of reality TV is not going to improve your parenting skills nor will it improve your understanding of or connection with youth. Ask yourself this question "How much growth would come from me spending 10 minutes a day listening to or reading helpful information about my child?" I'll give you the answer--ALOT! Here are some great resources to get you started.
Communicate. Start by asking “Help me understand this. Please. Mom (dad, or other) really wants to understand what’s going on, and if necessary help. But we need your help to understand ______ (insert issue).” Often the young person themselves may not understand what’s going on, or more commonly, have the language to express it. Suggest the possibility of visiting with someone who might help "us" understand the issue—not fix it. Youth don’t want to be fixed. They want to be understood, accepted and loved. But…don’t we all?
For a people who sustained themselves on their own produce, the multitude of rocks strewn throughout their farmland made no sense. Even amateur gardeners know that rocks impede root formation in plants.
Yet the ancient tribe of Anastasi Indians who, centuries ago, inhabited the now desolate Easter Island, learned to grow their food amidst rocky soil. To make matters more confusing scientists recently discovered that the Anastasi could have easily removed the rocks. They didn't just tolerate the rocks--they farmed them.
In researching other semi-arid places like Easter island such as Chile and Peru, scientists discovered that in certain semi-arid regions rocky soil actually enhances plant growth.
Rocks as Fertilizer
The rocks, both large and small, absorb moisture and release it during times of intense heat and dryness. The rocks retain heat which provides warmth on cold nights, and they contain vital minerals and nutrients which fertilize plants when released. When the Anastasi began farming the rocks--moving, spreading and adjusting them, they reaped a 400% increase in crop yield.
Have you ever thought, “If only I could only overcome this sin, I’d really be holy” or “I would really be able to connect better with God if _______ (insert any struggle, adversity or wound) didn’t exist.”
Most people do. And they don't stop with themselves. They carry over their spiritual perfectionism into the lives of others—especially young people.
In a desire to protect kids from themselves, others and life, many adults can act as though bearing Christian fruit only happens by eradicating from life’s soil all that is sinful, messy and painful. The sheer impossibility of that leaves many, once enthusiastic, hope filled adults feeling frustrated and discouraged.
Even worse, the youth who cannot attain such unrealistic perfection grow resentful at best or apathetic at worst. Young people know there is more to following Christ than vice eradication and smooth soil. If you come to them with that agenda youth will resist, run and rebel. And worse, they’ll lose respect for you and the faith you represent.
I don’t suggest turning a blind eye to the wounds, problems and other serious issues in the lives of young people. There are issues that merit immediate action. Outside of those, it is critical that we, like the ancient Anastasi, patiently work with and among the rocks which in time yield fruits of compassion, empathy and service.
Click here to learn five things you can do today to help youth grow and mature amidst their "rocks."
Have you ever
thought "I wish _____ (insert the name of any young person) would listen
to me and take more of my advice.”?
Whether we are
parents, educators or ministers, we all wish we could exert more influence over
the young people in our lives. There are five things you can do
today to make that happen.
1. Be Accepting. Some confuse the word
acceptance with approval. We can accept a young person while not agreeing with
certain things they do or believe. Jesus spent a lot of time with people whose
behavior he could not condone, but he did not let their sin prevent him from
loving and accepting them. Only when youth experience our total acceptance will
they consider our beliefs about spirituality and lifestyle choices.
2. Be Present. Young people notice when we are "going through the motions" or mindlessly saying "uh huh" or "head bobbing." When youth feel we are not really “with” them, but instead are mentally wandering they become resistant and distant.
3. Be Yourself. When I first started
working with kids, my attempts to speak their slang often came off as foolish
and cost me their respect. While it is important to be familiar with youth
culture it is crucial that we remain true to who we are. Young people have
enough buddies. What they need and crave are meaningful relationships with
mature and healthy adults.
4. Be Vulnerable. Young people know we
don’t have it all together. And while we must maintain healthy boundaries when
we self-disclose, it is essential that they have a glimpse into our brokenness.
It is in our brokenness that they experience our humanity. Be human, be broken,
be vulnerable and you’ll be very influential in their lives.
5. Be Interested. To be interesting, be interested. Although youth send signals to the contrary, they want adults to take a sincere interest in them. We do this by asking thoughtful, respectful and open-ended questions about them, their culture and what's going on in their lives. And when they risk sharing with you refer back to #1--be accepting!