REFLECTIONS ON HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

YS-Blog_750x300_high-school-football

REFLECTIONS ON HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL| BY RICK BARTLETT Rick’s Twitter

I have spent a career working with high school students in a variety of capacities: teacher, youth pastor, camp director- and now as a parent.

For the past couple weeks, I have been following the story from Steubenville, Ohio on the two young men who have been convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl. The news article I read talked about the arrogance that was displayed by the boys and their friends. According to the ARTICLE, they felt an entitlement to this kind of behavior because they were football players.

This following content isn’t a direct response to this story, but something that I wrote a couple years ago when I observed the pressure society placed on these young men.

Fall is here and with it comes one of America’s favorite pastimes, football. For those of us who work with high school students, this one sport tends to dominate all others.

THE PRESSURES AND PRIVILEGES OF HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Last year, while attending a high school football game at my alma mater, an interesting thought struck me. The entire community, young and old was gathered on a cold October night to watch a group of 16-18-year-olds play football. The team from my old high school was pretty good and was beating the visiting school quite easily. What was interesting wasn’t what I watched, but the way people talked about the local team members. I heard comments like, “He’s a real player,” “#18 is the best we’ve had in years,” “we’re all counting on #32 to bring us a championship,” and so on.

I was struck by the fact that from the comments around me, the hopes and dreams for the entire community were balanced precariously on the shoulders of a group of boys barely old enough to shave.
I could imagine the next morning when the running back, the star of this particular team, walked into the local Starbucks and had complete strangers come up and congratulate him on the game, give him compliments and encouragement, and maybe even tips for the next week. How does this make him feel? More importantly, is he cognitively and emotionally ready to handle this kind of recognition?

I’m not against young people being encouraged for a job well done. In fact, I believe that one thing young people need more of is encouragement. What I do have questions about is the level with which this young person is esteemed in the community and what will happen to him when he graduates.

For many, these high school years will be the best time of their lives; for others, it will be the worst. Don’t believe me? Why are there so many films made about adults returning to high school to change a significant event? I read that when Henry Kissinger was asked what his greatest public moment was he replied, “Attending my high school reunion and showing them that I made something of myself.”

Ten years from now, the allure of returning to “the glory days” could be strong for this running back in Starbucks who may not ever receive the kind of attention he is receiving now. How will he cope when the reality of life is different from the surreal world of celebrity high school athletics? What has my local town trained him to expect from life?

WALKING THE FINE LINE

As a person with a career in youth work, I’m concerned with the pressures we place on youth to grow up too fast too soon. At the same time, I’m a strong advocate for leadership development in adolescents. How can we walk the fine line between these two realities? Instead of setting up a dichotomy, can we see this as a “both/and” situation?

FIRST, I THINK YOUTH WORKERS AND TEACHERS SHOULD BE THE FIRST TO RAISE THEIR VOICES TO CALL INTO QUESTION THE PRESSURES AND EXPECTATIONS PLACED ON TODAY’S YOUNG PERSON.

One way to provide assistance for young people trying to navigate through these difficult times of adolescence is having in his or her life a blend of support and challenge. Too much challenge without support and the young person might be pushed so far they just give up. In reality, too much support without any challenge is probably not possible in this life.

SECOND, I WOULD ENCOURAGE THAT THE SCHOOL, TEACHERS, PARENTS AND THE CHURCH TO SEEK TO HELP #32, MY COMMUNITY’S RUNNING BACK, TO SEE HIS SUCCESS IN THE WIDER SCOPE OF LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT.

Maybe a coach can spend extra time with those students who are both the appointed and natural team leaders, teaching them leadership principles that are applicable on and off the playing field. Alternatively, this could be a place where a youth pastor could be of assistance providing a “leadership development cohort” at a local school.

Whatever we do, I encourage us to find ways to work together. We owe it to #32 to help him navigate this time of fame so that he is grounded in the reality of the future.

Advertisements

The Perfect Youth Ministry Volunteer

Youth Pastor, Chris Dortch, in North Carolina recently posted on his church’s blog looking for volunteers. Here’s what he’s looking for — sounds pretty good to us.

What would the “perfect” youth ministry volunteer look like?  I think I have an answer, but first let’s address some of the myths.

Myth #1 “You’ve got to be cool.”
Let’s face it, we probably weren’t that cool in high school and we’re certainly not cool as adults.  Students don’t need someone to be cool, they need authenticity.  If you are willing to be yourself around teenagers, you’re a great candidate for volunteering in the youth ministry.

Myth #2 “You’ve got to be young.”
Sometimes we think that the 20-somethings “relate better” to teenagers because of their age.  Most teenagers have a hard time telling the difference between at 25 year-old who is married and a 37 year-old who is married (they are both “old”).  Research shows that teenagers are actually drawn to the oldest person in the room who will listen to them and take them seriously.  If you are willing to listen to teenagers and take their problems seriously, you’re a great candidate for volunteering in the youth ministry.

Myth #3 “You’ve got to act like a teenager.”
There is a difference between being child-like and being childish.  One of my youth ministry heroes, Duffy Robbins says, “Teenagers don’t need adults who act like teenagers.  They need adults who don’t freak out when teenagers act like teenagers.”  If you can act like an adult and not “freak out” when teenagers act like teenagers, then you’re a great candidate for volunteering in the youth ministry.

Myth #4 “You’ve got to a Bible scholar.”
Sure, we want you to know something about the Bible, but we don’t expect you to have all of the answers.  In John 9, the man born blind gives us a great example of how to respond to questions we don’t know the answers to, “Whether Jesus was a sinner or not, I don’t know.  One thing I do know, I once was blind but now I can see!”  If you are willing to help students discover answers to their questions, you’re a great candidate for volunteering in the youth ministry.

Myth #5 “You’ve got to know everything in teen culture.”
It’s okay if you don’t listen to Justin Bieber and you still listen to Abba on vinyl.  Students want you to be you.  Many of them would even love to hear stories about the time you were in a KISS cover band!  If you don’t know who Justin Bieber is, you’re the perfect candidate for volunteering in the youth ministry.

If these aren’t the things that teenagers are looking for, what do they need in an adult volunteer?

Reality #1 “Students need adults who will live a life honoring to God.”
Students are searching for adults who are authentic in their walk with Christ.  If there is one thing that teenagers have a keen ability to spot, it is fake people.

Reality #2 “Students need adults who are interested enough to learn their name.”
Students want to know if adults care enough to remember their names.  When I first came to Christ Community Church over ten years ago, I had a middle school girl ask, “Do you know my name?”  To my embarrassment, I had no clue.  I told her that if she reminded me of her name one last time, I would make sure that I knew it the next week.  I will never forget Alice.

Reality #3 “Students need adults who are interested in their life.”
Students need adults who will spend time with them, pray for them, say an encouraging word, believe in them, and simply laugh with them.  Students want to know if you are willing to come into “their world” and discover who they are.

Reality #4 “Students need adults who are consistent with their attendance.”
Students are familiar with adults who come in and out of their lives like a revolving door.  Teachers change from semester to semester.  Parents change from alternating weekends.  Teenagers need to know which adults are going to be consistent in their life.  This is one of the reasons that I have committed to youth ministry for nearly twenty years.

Students may ask it this way, “Do you care about me?  Do you know my name?  Will you be here next week?”  If you are willing to show teenagers you care about them, willing to learn some names, and be consistent with your attendance… YOU are the perfect youth ministry volunteer.

We believe that every teenager needs five godly adults who are investing in their lives.  When a student in our church’s youth group is asked, “Who are the most influential adults in your life?”  We want their parents and adults from our student ministry to be in their top five!

Chris Dortch has been in ministry since 1993 and has been the Lead Youth Pastor of Christ Community Church since January of 2002.  You can find a few of his resources at DOWNLOAD YOUTH MINISTRY.

Baptism Story!

One of the greatest opportunities to tangibly see the mission of Rock Bridge Community Church being lived out is through baptism. When people are connected to life in Christ, baptism is the next step! Jesus both modeled and commanded baptism as a symbol to tell the world that we are now living for Him.

Here at Rock Bridge we love celebrating stories of people connecting to life in Christ. I want to share one of those stories from our recent baptism where well over 100 people took the next step in baptism. Check this out!

6 years in prison. Meth user. Saved by grace! 6 years clean! She said “I’m free & forgiven. He gave me New Life” But God had a plan!

5.21.2017 Baptism (323)

Fathers Day 2017

19260463_635636698594_1085237202716738302_n.jpgI love fathers day! It’s more exciting to me than my birthday. Fathers day normally is just another day. Not a big deal like mothers day is. And that’s cool, but I LOVE THIS DAY!

Did you know years ago when cell phones weren’t a thing Fathers day was the number one day for collect calls. Also, traditionally Fathers day is a very low attended Sunday at churches across the country… Total opposite of mothers day! That’s saying something fellas. 

Fathers Day should be a day of celebrating positive masculinity, a day of celebrating the amazing gift that men bring to families. Celebrating the man who not only made you but has stuck around to raise you!

There are so many statistics that show a absence of positive male role models in a child’s life has an impact on teen dropout rates, drug use, unwanted pregnancy etc…. Another big deal is the decline of masculinity.

We’ve simply forgotten how to be men. We’ve forgotten how much power we have to shape the lives of our own children.

My prayer on this fathers day is this…

  • I pray that my kids will always have a dad they can trust and depend on.
  • That I will be the same man personally, publicly and privately.
  • Someone they actually look up to and want to be like!
  • See me love their mom and in return learn how to love their future spouse.
  • See me live out what I preach and the message become life and not just words.
  • That they will always see that I strive to be a man of character and integrity.

There is no better title or responsibility than being Dad. Make it a priority to lead and love!

And for the record… When ministry/work/hobby/etc… becomes more important or a priority over Family, you have failed. Doesn’t matter how “great the work is” Family First!

To all the dads who are struggling/confused/worried you are doing a bad job but are sticking it out and striving to be a better leader for your family. You got this! Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

 

A Father’s Call to Fight

By Craig Groeschel

Learning to Fight the Enemy as a Man of God

Each year when summer rolls around, my wife and kids honor me on Father’s Day. For me, Father’s Day is not only a day to reflect on the greatest blessings God’s given me — my family — but also a day to reflect on God, the ultimate Father.

The Bible says that God is a God of mercy and grace. And Exodus 15:3 tells us “The Lord is a warrior; Yahweh is His name.” So if we’re created in God’s image, then it’s safe to say that being a warrior is core to man’s identity. It’s not just a cultural, patriarchal thing. It’s a God thing.

Consider what the Bible has to say about fathers. Psalm 127:4-5 says, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. Such men will never be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the city gate.”

Warriors.

Do you consider yourself a warrior? As a father, how do you teach your children to fight?

If all this fighting, violence, and being a warrior bothers you, let me say this: the virtue of strength is determined by how it’s used. If strength is used to love and to protect, it’s good. Unfortunately, it can also be used to inflict harm, and that’s not what I’m talking about. God calls us to fight for what’s right. And a warrior is only as worthy as his cause.

A man without a cause from God is often just an angry man who doesn’t know where to direct his pent-up energy and aggression. A warrior with a cause from God directs his warlike energy for a cause greater than himself and honors his family with his strength.

Gentlemen, God created you with the heart of a warrior. But until there’s something you’re willing to die for, you won’t understand your cause, and you can’t truly live.

We must always be on guard, fighting for our hearts and the hearts of our families.

Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the middle of a battle. Your spiritual enemy wants to take you out. He’s the master at making strong men weak. Sometimes he does it when things seem to be going well. Life seems pretty good — no struggles in sight. We become resigned to an easy life full of the familiar. It’s in those moments when things seem easy that we can actually become easy targets for the enemy. We must always be on guard, fighting for our hearts and the hearts of our families.

Every man has struggles, a battle to fight. If we had no struggles, we would have nothing to fight for. God often uses these painful moments we dread to do something deep within us. It’s how He shapes us to be the men He wants us to be, preparing us to fight and win even bigger battles.

But what does being a warrior look like in the every day?

Maybe you’re in danger of failing financially. Now is the time to fight like your life depends on it, to get control of your budget and align your priorities with your cash flow. Honor your family and the Lord by your financial stewardship — confess any missteps, or even secrets, and commit to future financial integrity. Fight like crazy to regain your financial security, for your family’s sake.

Perhaps you’re playing with a lustful fire. You keep returning to images and people and places that excite you but also unleash something you’re afraid you can’t control. You’re going to get burned. Decide. Confess and overcome the darkness. Fight!

Your marriage may be hanging by a thread. Determine never to surrender. Use love, patience, and forgiveness. Seek counseling from a professional, work hard, fight harder, and make those healthy choices that can save your marriage.

Maybe your kids are making dangerous decisions. Get down on your knees and fight like a man — of God! As parents who serve the Lord, we are responsible for imparting spiritual life and legacy to our children. In order to do that, in order to earn our children’s respect, we must set a godly example, and that alone is a battle worth fighting.

TAKE ACTION

  • Read the Bible with your children, and let them see you reading the Bible on your own.
  • Challenge your children to memorize Scripture.
  • Take your children outdoors to a nearby lake, forest, or park and discuss God’s creation.

Dads, fighting the enemy is an all day, every day battle — one we may not even recognize. Choosing a lifestyle that honors God may affect all kinds of mundane things, from which morning radio station to listen to on the way to school to how we speak to our spouses and children throughout the day. It’s waking up an hour earlier to spend time in the Word. It’s choosing not to vent about work in front of the kids. It’s teaching our children to fight for what’s right and supporting them all the way. By making the life choices, big and small, that glorify God, we diffuse the power of Satan in our lives and win the battle for our families.

Learn how to fight with faith, with prayer, and with the Word of God. Then, when the enemy attacks, fight for the righteous cause God gave you.

Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv, a pace-setting multicampus church with 17 locations in five states. He is the author of several books, including FIGHT: Winning the Battles that Matter Most (Zondervan).