Month: February 2010

Understanding Jr. High

The most frequent question that I receive from parents would have to be; What is happening to my child? In one, big, giant word: CHANGE!  In the next two years, your child will begin to change physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally and spiritually – just to name a few.  All of these changes can be brought back to three main questions:

 

  1. Who am I? (personal identity)
  2. Do I matter? (significance)
  3. Why am I here and where am I going? (purpose)

 

These three questions deal with their identity, significance, and their purpose in life.  The following are five areas that you as parents will become very accustomed with during your youth’s jr. high years.

 

Physical Changes

    • Puberty begins
    • Growth spurts
    • Increased attraction to the opposite sex
    • Physical skills are maturing, but they will still be clumsy

 

All of these changes will cause them to become very conscious of their physical appearance, but these rapid changes are perceived to be a change to their identity.  They will need to learn to differentiate between their inner and outer changes.

 

Intellectual Changes

    • Understand abstract facts which leads to the drawing on conclusions
    • The word ‘why’ returns to their vocabulary as they begin to question everything
    • New hobbies creep in as they search for their identity and the allowance for the freedom to experiment
    • Grades might lower as rapid growth changes can cause memory loss, and major life changes will also cause a dip in their school work

 

Social Changes

    • Friends become more important
    • Increase peer influence
    • Strong popularity complex
    • Search for independence
    • Wants to be an adult, but they are not there yet
    • Critical of others (tattletaler)

 

Reassurance and encouragement is the only way they will exit their comfort areas.  This will be the most difficult transition for both you, the parent, as well as your youth.

 

Emotional Changes

    • Become more expressive
    • Experience ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ at the drop of a hat
    • Extreme emotion
    • Feelings become identifiable to them
    • Self esteem is a constant struggle
    • Unable to hide emotions
    • Fixate on emotions rather then rational thought

 

Spiritual Changes

    • Question faith they had during childhood
    • “Because the Bible says so” is no longer acceptable as an answer to them
    • Can apply spiritual principles to everyday life
    • Looking for ways to experience what they have been taught
    • Strong sense of self-awareness causes them to become sensitive about sin

 

This is a strange time for your youth, but a very important time for parents as this is the life stage where your child will grow into what they will become.  Patience will be the key, but once they grow out of this stage, the benefits will be phenomenal.

 

What Every Jr. High Guy Needs

Why is it that a jr. high guy can’t see that his room is as dirty as you tell him? Simple: Males absorb less proximal or sensory data than females. This is also why they may not hear a teacher calling them in class. Males have many other functions that make them as unique as they are.

The first step is to understand that the jr. high male is going to have a shorter attention span than females. Males are two to three more times likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Since a male’s brain develops at a different rate than a female’s, here are some specific areas that we can focus on to help them grow into strong men of God.

 

  1. Guys need to be known.
    It is important that as parents and youth leaders, we know the struggles and development habits they will go through in order to help guide them through adolescence.
  2. Guys need validation as unique individuals
    Stereotyping guys can hurt and hinder their development with becoming strong men. They need to realize that God created them especially so that they can build up their characteristics that God gave them.
  3. Guys need community
    They need multi-aged relationships to help them learn how to develop. They need the bond of a man to guide them like a compass, but they also need many peers to sharpen them like “iron sharpens iron”. They will also need these male influences to help form masculinity
  4. Guys need mentors
    A mentor helps to impart wisdom as well as being concerned with the development of character. They become the safe place that every guy needs, giving them a listening ear without the fear of judgment. Most importantly, a mentor guides his protege into a strong relationship with Christ.
  5. Guys need to play
    They need to learn a healthy way to release their aggression. Here they learn about fair play, respect, control and discipline.

 

Guys develop at a very different rate than females, and we need to be very careful not to expect uniformity from them. If you have questions about your young men feel free to email, call, have lunch or whatever to talk about the characteristics that make them unique.

The Nehemiah Factor: 16 Characteristics of a Missional Leader

Simplicity. This is probably not the first word you want to hear when you are deciding on reading a resource book, or when reviewing it. However, in this case, Dr.Frank Pageʼs The Nehemiah Factor: 16 Characteristics of a Missional Leader is just that- a simple read. Do not let that fool you as this book packs spiritual, emotional and personal punches that cause you to become lost in his uncomplicated writing, and which can cause you to ask of yourself: Is this where I am? Can I be a missional leader in my church?

 

The layout of the book is very logical as it takes the reader on a journey from an original calling to ministry to the final victory of a successful ministry and relationship with God, with all the Godly steps needed to fill in the holes of any wishful missional leader. For myself, the chapter entitled A Missional Leader is a Person of Christlike Concern establishes itself well beyond the rest. It creates an atmosphere that the reader can call into question – motives, callings and purposes of vision – without making one feel overwhelmed or inadequate in their leadership skills. Instead, it allows the reader to make personal connections into the missional ideals of Nehemiah and Jesus in order to enhance the skills and hindsight with which they entered the chapter. The book, primarily, does a fantastic job at clearing up questions about the whole missional movement. Answering these questions that many leaders have about the whys and hows of a true missional church will only further understanding. For instance, I have used the chapter on communication for my camp staff to help them understand the importance of it in a leadership position within a missional driven ministry.

 

I would recommend this book to youth workers or anyone that is in a leadership position. Whether you are a cheerleader or not for the popularity of the term “missional,” the concepts and skills addressed in this book cannot be overlooked. Another thing that I enjoyed about this book was its abundance of Scripture references beyond the book of Nehemiah, especially when Dr. Page notes a concern that could arise in the area being covered and it is noted through Scriptural reference. Lastly, one chapter that I did find lacking comprehension was that discussing “time conflict.” I though that it was covered too quickly with not enough detail going into explaining both how to be an effective time manager as well as why it is important to have this asset. Overall, a great read that any leader (new or old) should pick up for their library.

 

Originally posted by ThinkYouthMinistry on July 7, 2009

The Search for God and Guinness

Note:

Disclosure of Material Connection: This book was received free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program.

 

To be honest, when I saw The Search for God and Guinness on Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze program, I was a little skeptical. I had no idea the social impact that the Guinness family had on society, nor did I know the strong moral code their company would portray to, first, the people of Dublin and eventually, the world. I thought the title was very fitting for the book as it is a strong historical look at the family, the role God played in their lives, and Mansfield’s own search for answers.

 

What I found unique about this historical look at Arthur Guinness and the Guinness family is the strong teaching of influence and good actions, along with a strong calling from God that goes beyond family: it impacts society as a whole. They knew they had the means to help Dublin, so they put their wealth to work by improving Dublin, its people, and its image.

 

However, my favorite “sticking point” of the story is the role of apprenticeship. You see that through the Guinness’ line, great men didn’t just happen. They were given the support, trust, knowledge, and experience of the older generation, so that they could excel and continue the good work God had blessed them with. They exemplify what many fathers today are attempting to do – teach their children quality lessons. The only problem is many times fathers today forget the key component of time and energy. The Guinness men had plenty of patience to pass on these traits.

 

I did find the book very difficult to focus on at times. It came across as a history text, more often than not. As one with a history major, I loved the historical lineage and facts about the Guinness clan, but if there is no historical interest in the reader’s hearth, this could be a tough book to make it through.

Book Review: Escaping the Vampire

When I was first asked to read over Escaping the Vampire by Kimberly Powers, I will say that I was excited. Right away, the connection to Twilight was unmistakable, the font type, the image bearing likeness to the forbidden fruit on the cover of the hugely popular series (hands holding a snow white rose). Being a fan of the relevance of Twilight, and the influence it has had on the generation at large, I was ready to jump in and read it.

 

It took me two days.

 

However, after reading it through twice, I felt a little let down and disappointed. It was not in the content or the message the book sends to teen girls, but by the tie-ins to Twilight. They were present – and plenty – but there was a stronger push by the author for teens to watch out for the “Ultimate Vampire” or Satan. Although this is a strong statement and worthy of every tween and teen alike to take seriously, the original feeling and desire of the Twilight connection caused the message to be glanced over, as the reader constantly looks for the next quote about Edward and Bella.

 

Now that the misconceptions of this book are out in the open, the content becomes clear. This happened for me during the second read once I got rid of my Twilight bias. For Powers, the Twilight series is such a hit with young teens because it is a love story, and every girl longs for the type of love Edward has and shows to Bella.

 

A love that is attentive, protective, fought for, and to be desired.

 

Many of these qualities are not easy to fault a girl for, so why do many youth workers dismiss Edward as a tool? Too many times I have heard and witnessed leaders who, when asked by their youth why they should not read Twilight, have been told that “It’s bad …or evil …about vampires, who are evil.” I think that these misconceptions and default answers are why youth leaders need a book like this on their shelf: To allow them the ability to be culturally relevant.

 

If we cannot meet our youth in what penetrates their world, and have quality communication with them about the content, underlying themes, and the qualities that make the characters we love endearing, then we have lost some respect in their eyes.

 

That was one of the qualities of Kimberly Powers’ book that I enjoyed. It was the ability to see connections and lessons that can come from popular culture.

 

Powers points the reader in to a strong conclusion – Satan’s lies in our life are based on our selfish twisted desires of destruction. Too many times are young teens swayed by author, and therefore, buy into what society tells them is acceptable, and then try everything in their power to attain it. Such thinking is a bold-faced lie by Satan. Once attaining that goal becomes unsuccessful, they settle for a substitute: A form of enticement that they have been tempted with to ease the pain (i.e. cutting, eating disorders, anything that can lead to deeper pain and destruction). Satan is a masterful liar, as mentioned in Genesis 3, and there is only one true way out and that is not in the arms of Edward, but in the arms of the “Ultimate Hero” – God. The truth of God’s Word contrasts Satan’s lies and can establish strength in the shadow of destruction.

 

As a resource that entices and draws on strong parallels to Twilight, I would give the book a “D+” but, for a resource that points young girls towards valuable life lessons through the truth of God’s Word and Godly women of faith, I would give it a strong “B.”

 

Worth the read, but probably not a permanent place on youth worker’s shelf.

 

Originally Posted on ThinkYouthMinistry.ca on Feb. 1, 2010