At NNU, the Freshman Orientation experience was a three-day process for the parents and a four-day event for the kids. These days were filled with student/parent meetings, departmental receptions, technology meetings for the kids, department head meetings for the adults, special family meal gatherings, a presidential scholarship recognition gathering and worship.
One of the most memorable things that was spoken at the Freshman Orientation weekend was something the president said. His caution went something like this, “Listen to your children’s voices as they call home. Listen for any difference in their tone. Do you remember back when they were children and how you could tell the difference between the cry over a scraped knee versus the cry of a broken bone? Listen to your children as they call home. Listen for the difference in their voice. When the cry sounds more like a broken bone, that’s when we want you to call us and fill us in on what’s going on so we can help.” The message: some change isn’t for the best.
We found a lot of comfort in that. It also became a helpful tool for us sooner than we expected. (more…)
The day has arrived. It’s a day we have all been aiming at for 18 years. All of your hard work in grade school, junior high and high school—and it was a lot of hard work—paid off in a big way.
You’re entering as fine an institution for higher education as we could have hoped for you. You have a strong foundation of success that will serve you well. You have established positive behavior patterns and habits that will support you when facing new academic challenges. You’re going to be fine.
Even though you don’t totally believe that. (more…)
Recently, I spoke to more than a hundred business people about my inspirational book, Watson’s Way. At first glance, it isn’t self-evident how a story written primarily for middle and high school kids is actually a business book, in disguise.
The Frozen Ridge
It’s not just business people who recall, without any fondness, the 4th quarter of 2008 and the 1st quarter of 2009. That’s when everyone learned about big banks and insurers that had made idiotic investment gambles resulting in a new government phrase, “too big to fail.” The markets weren’t too big to fail, however, and subsequently tanked over those 6 months. My work life really felt like the picture above: frozen, hostile, inconceivably challenging. I was the Managing Principal for much of the state, with a national investment company, responsible for sales management, recruiting, training and compliance for more than 40 professionals, as well as nearly $500M. Most other firms utilized four field leaders to cover the four roles I held. Several of those under my watch went rogue, I suppose, partly from the pressure they felt. One even engaged in a well-hidden and devastating betrayal. Our family also went through two enormous personal crises during this period. Physically, I carried around a huge bloodclot in my leg. In a word, that time was awful.
Redemption on 4 Legs
Throughout this time and the years that followed, we were the “persons” to Watson, our shelter dog. When he passed suddenly in the summer of 2011 and I began the process of writing what ended up becoming this book, nearly all of the life lessons that came from Watson had an application within the business world. Even though the lessons were simple, it didn’t mean they were simplistic:
Live with intention
How to be patient when all you want to do is bark
Stand up for what you believe in, even when it costs you
Find reasons to laugh, especially when there isn’t much to laugh about
Try new things, even when it makes you uncomfortable
Give…and forgive, even when it hurts
Ageless Life Lessons
Certainly, publishing Watson’s Way represents a labor of love by those in our house, who were blessed to have been his persons. But that was never the intent, to just create a love legacy. The lessons nestled within this book have relevance to parents, as well as their children. And…these inspirational tales (tails) speak truth, warmth and perspective to those in business, just as much. We all need to hear stories of beauty, resilience, humor and humility. Our humanness is enhanced and centered, by simple lessons from a dog.
What was your experience during the “Crash of ’08-’09”? How were you impacted? Does that time impact you still? If so, in what ways?
Yesterday we looked at expectations, generally, and how they influence our role in ministry. Today, in part 2, we look at specific areas where those expectations can clash with reality.
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It is probably true that a great many people doing youth ministry today didn’t have such a great experience in their own adolescence. It has been theorized that quite likely most of the people in any helping profession are there, at least in part, to right some of the wrongs they experienced in their youth. They want to help others through a rough spot. Youth ministers are there to help adolescents and preadolescents through a very rough period of life. They want to help. This is certainly a worthy profession and a worthy reason for engaging in it. But it has more than its fair share of snares and pitfalls, precisely because of the motivation for doing ministry and the target audience involved.
Boundaries are Also Like Bowling Alley Bumpers
Often times the youth minister is not much older than the kids she is charged to love and care for. The rationale for this approach by congregations that call young people to minister to their kids is that the young youth minister will have the necessary energy to go the distance with the kids and that he will be able to “speak the language.” While this may be true, it is probable that the younger the youth minister is the less life experience this person will bring to their ministry, and the more likely it is that they will be serving a short time. The reason for this is that there are few boundaries that exist in church work. The young, or new, youth minister will not know this and is at high risk for getting creamed. Their “thorn in the flesh” might be:
an adult member with outrageous expectations
a staff colleague with strong ego needs for control
a kid with little ability to distinguish between Love and love
a parent, fearing they have failed, projecting their angst at them
a ministry peer threatened by someone else’s success(es)
their own unexamined expectation
Tomorrow we’ll examine a realistic perspective for expectations…and what healthy boundaries feel like.