Your Own Glass is Half-Full

Originally published March 15, 2008.

Last month I referenced an essay by a 16-year old from a series Time ran in September 2006.Here are four more essays chosen to give us some bright insight into the 16-year old mind:

By Stephen Serene:

"Now that I am 16, I am starting to feel responsible for helping to solve some of the world's big issues. Until now, I have blamed poverty and disease in Africa, global warming, discrimination, national debt accumulation and war on adults. Now that I am about to become an adult I am gaining the ability to help mitigate these problems.

"I recently received my driver's license and began driving instead of using public transportation. My contribution to global warming has increased significantly and I must now work to fix that. My impending entrance into civil society also brings responsibilities. Soon, I will have to work to decrease discrimination and national debt. Until now I have just been content to educate myself about these issues. In the near future, however, I will have to decide to what extent I wish to help those in sickness and poverty. Will I study development? If I do, will I live intermittently in developing countries and America, with the family sacrifices such a life would entail? If I work in an unrelated field, how much money will I give to charity?

"I am very excited to try and help the world. Yet I fear the day when the problems I have ignored or failed to solve lie on my conscience."

Everyone’s Emphasizing Family Time—Are You?

Originally published March 2008.

Over Christmas (2007), when too many commercials are run and then they are run far too often.Wal-Mart ran a commercial seemingly all the time.They actually started running it before Thanksgiving.The commercial was of a mother who thought she was so clever.She had the best idea of how to gather her family together for family time—buy a large-screen TV.The commercial ends with the picture of a happy family sitting together on a couch watching mind-numbing TV.I don’t know if it actually was mind-numbing TV but watching Deal or No Deal or Dancing with the Stars is hardly good family time.Unless sitting on a couch together not conversing is good enough for you.

Then there is the commercial for the Dodge Grand Caravan driven by the mother purchased as a way for her family to have family time?What a good purchase!Of course, part of the commercial shows the entire family with headphones on watching different programming from the DVD player.Together in the same vehicle but still separate.

The Repeating of Youth Ministry

Originally published May 15, 2009.

For the past 17 years I have spent my off-days as a substitute teacher.Besides classroom management (which means crowd control and is something youth workers have experience in providing), I have to teach the same lesson four to five times a day.The same lesson on context clues in a paragraph.The same lesson on World War I.The same lesson on mitosis.It is often stuff I knew already, except for algebra where my brain freezes.As I teach the same lesson over and over again, I have to remind myself that this may be the first time this class of 8th graders is learning it.I have to try to teach the lesson so it has the same learning impact it did on 1st period all the way through to 5th period.Even though I now know every detail of that lesson, I need to teach it to that 5th period class as enticingly as 1st period received it.

Youth ministry is a lot like this.