Saturday, August 6, 2011

Please, Feel Free to See Right Through Me

See? They are excited about it too.
I love school. I have always loved school. I love the new books, notebooks, fresh pencils. I love office supplies and the smell of the library. I can't wait for a new organizer and highlighters and all of the little gizmos that go along with the first day. I know I'm a geek. I get it. (But I'm a geek with really quality school supplies.) God blessed me in a mighty way when He gave me the opportunity to teach high school English seventh grade through twelfth grade. (A complete lesson planning nightmare, but incredibly rewarding job experience.) I get to love school all over again.

Part of the Youth Group from Church
I've been enjoying these "you might have lived in..." or "you might have attended such and such school" on Facebook lately. I noticed that the same brand of stupid was around twenty-some-odd years ago when I attended high school as exists now. Some common activities that never go out of style include: setting things on fire, going fast (in whatever is handy be it a golf cart, car, shopping cart, etc.), sneaking around (usually just because you want to get away with something and not because it's altogether that awful), driving issues, and teachers who were/are insane.
DNow Weekend
There are people who are wired to work with little kids. I am not this person. My patience threshold is too low, and my tolerance for snot is almost non-existent. (I admire people in children's ministries more than I can say.) I, however, do seem to have a strong affinity for youth, teens, and young people in general. They crack me up. They inspire me. They tolerate me reasonably well (as much as they can any adult). Probably because I get the joke. I genuinely LIKE them, being around them, talking to them, listening to them, and participating in their lives. 
Working with students on the school play
The key to working effectively with youth is simple: transparency.

They can spot a phony from a hundred paces at sunset. They can sense fear and lying and loathing. They understand that most adults want something from them, and as a result they are wary, guarding their secrets carefully lest the information be used against them. And can you blame them? How many of us have done something incredibly stupid or reckless simply because we were young? Can I get an Amen? 

Junior High at School
Getting past that youth barrier isn't about them letting down their guard, it's about teachers and adults letting our guard down. There has been a tremendous amount of press about Facebook and whether friending between parents/teens or teachers/students is appropriate. For me it's an easy answer--absolutely yes, because I hope I am living my life in such a way that it's never an embarrassment to me, my family, my church, or my testimony. A really good general rule for Christians is if I don't want anyone to see me doing it, I probably shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

As Christians, if we are going to reach people with the saving power and message of Jesus Christ, we have to be a people of complete transparency. We have to walk the walk. We have to be the same all of the time. We have to live a life that is an example, not have things we need to "hide" or "private". If you are going places and doing things that you need to block from certain folks, I question the wisdom in doing them.

Psalm 106:39 They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves.
Youth on Mission Trip
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

So, if you're a Christian who is going to work with youth, I highly advise you to get your personal life in order first. (That's the Scriptural intent behind getting that plank out of your own eye before launching a massive splinter search in other people's lives). Make sure that your life is a worthy example. Live the same way publicly that you do privately. Be honest. Give them a break. Keep their secrets. Be truthful. Accept stupid and sometimes reckless behavior as normal (I'm very sorry Mr. McBay (High School) and Mr. Walljasper (Jr. High) for all of the grief that we gave you in school discipline, but I don't regret a second of the fun).

I can't wait to see what God has in store for our high school, junior high, and youth group this year, and I am so thankful that He lets me be a very small part of His plan!

My precious high school students and cast of MidSummer Night's Dream
Titus 2:7-8 "In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."

No comments: