Thursday, January 25, 2007

How we view the world

A couple of posts back I wrote about the tragic death of my friend Mehrdad. This obviously caused me to think a great deal about our relationship and the time I spent with him. In the midst of all that I had, I don't know what you would call it, a revelation, a thought, something.

I was on my way to pick Jared up from school and I rounded a pretty severe turn when I saw a rather beat-up big ol' honkin' sedan coming the other way. Something was off about the image I was seeing though. It was like I was looking through a camera that was being held slightly off from square, the car had a 10 degree list to the left. I literally shook my head to clear what I thought were cob webs from my brain. The image remained skewed. I shook my ahead again and this thought began to occur to me.

This is gonna sound crazy but I have been called crazy before. For seven years, I spent August through November, looking at Mehrdad in a football helmet. Every day for four months for seven years that's I saw him. And everyday his helmet was crooked, slightly off from square, like he just got tackled and his helmet got knocked askew but that's how he looked from the minute he walked out of the locker room to the minute he took off his helmet. I had been spending so much time thinking about Mehrdad that the image of him and his crooked helmet was once again present in my mind. In that moment, silly as it may sound, I believe, my perception of the oncoming car was impacted by the time I spent with Mehrdad.

We view life through a lens; more like a series lenses. You know the kind when you go to the eye doctor and they slide that contraption in front of your face and the doctor asks is the eye chart easier to see on number 1, or, he slides a lever and changes the lens, or number 2, back and forth, between the two lenses, 1 or 2. The lenses that we view life through are the people with whom we come in contact. For better or worse, if we spend any significant amount of time with someone they will affect the way we see things.

The image of the car being slightly off was not necessarily deep or meaningful other than it was happy reminder of my growing up with Mehrdad. I guess the bigger a-ha for me was that the way we see life is impacted, to a greater or lesser degree, by those around us. The other side of the coin is that we impact how others see the world.

So, who is impacting your world view? How are they impacting it? Who would you like to see have a greater impact on your world view? A lesser impact? Maybe harder to answer, whose world view are you impacting? How are you impacting it?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Missing the point

I have been hanging out with a new high school friend, we'll just call him "Bob."
This past week, I had a vanful of kids to take home, we dropped off everyone else and continued on to Bob's house. Over the course of the next 15 minutes "Bob" proceeded to tell me a little bit more about himself, in his own, words, "sometimes I act up, I get hyper and jump around." In more clinical terms, my guess is he has some undiagnosed ADHD and impulsivity stuff going on. He also told me how poorly he had been treated in previous youth group settings. The implication was that his behavior was not bad enough to require disciplinary actions but inappropriate enough to make him stand out.
I assumed he meant the poor treatment was from the the other kids. But as I listened, I realized it was his previous leaders who were making him feel left-out, unwanted and not worthy. Things like this: In a room of twenty people, teams of eight were being made, "Bob" didn't get put on a team. Everyone has to be odd man out sometimes, but listening to "Bob," this was a regular occurrence. On another occasion, volunteers were requested to share their musical talents. Despite "Bob's" volunteering he was once again overlooked. Time and again "Bob" was made to feel like he wasn't good enough or didn't fit the right mold. I don't know the programs or youth leaders he referred to but I am embarassed and ashamed for them.
Maybe I am overly senstive to stuff like this because I have had to watch my own child struggle socially but this stuff should not happen. A kid like "Bob" might need more coaching or guidance or redirection than your average kid but that doesn't make it okay to dismiss him or make him feel like a second class citizen. As leaders, no never mind as leaders, as eveyday people, trying to follow Christ, our goal should be to erase the margins to which people like "Bob" get relegated not push them furhter away. Jesus spent his public ministry going to the people who got overlooked and left out and drew them in. The woman at the well, Zaccheaus the tax collector, the woman caught in adultery, the demoniac, the hemorrhaging woman, lepers, invalids, the aged, the sick, children,they didn't fit the mold and Jesus went to them. We should do likewise. To do otherwise is definitely missing the point.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sad news

Three days ago there was a triple homicide one town over from us. One of the men killed was a good friend, Mehrdad. He and I were captains of our freshmen football team in high school. He had a great laugh, the kind that was contagious. He would teach us a phrase in Iraninan, his native tongue, and tell us to go say it to his mom. She would giggle and blush and then yell at Mehrdad for teaching us Iranian swears.

I lost touch with him after high school. About two years, ago I bumped into him at the gym. We played a little bit of racquetball together. More accurately, Mehrdad took me to racquetball school. He was always ranked #1 or 2 at the gym.

His wife and two young children are left to deal with this tragedy. Please pray for them.

Mehrdad was a good man and a good friend. He will be missed.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Work in Progress

Hey...look at me...I'm posting again. Pretty cool huh?

I thought I'd write about something we are currently wrestling(in the productive sense of the word) with in our Student Ministries. I tried to keep the mission for our Student ministries simple:

Love (all students, period.)

Lead ( students into relationship with Christ)

Build (those students who choose to follow Christ into disciples)

Love, Lead, Build.

There has been an unwritten, but very often spoken, companion to those three: We want our students who spend any significant amount of time with us to own their faith. That means we want students to respond to the work of Christ in their lives because they choose to, not because I say so. We want our students to be able to articulate what they believe not what their folks believe. We want our students to connect with God 24/7 not just on Sunday mornings.

Recently, I feel like we have discovered another component that we need to work on. We want our students to know or at a bare minimum, begin to understand, who it is that God uniquely created them each to be. I think simply stating that fact out loud will allow many of our students to breathe a sigh of relief. 1) It's not only okay but normal to not really know who you are as a middle school or high school student 2) Someone wants to help them on that journey of discovery.

So what is it that makes us, well us? Not who we are, but who we were meant to be? (The differences between those two things is huge, incredibly important and a integral piece of this particular puzzle) How do we discover that? What conversations should we be having with our students? What experiences should we be creating? In what ways might we have to change what we do on a weekly basis?

Maybe there will be more to come on this as we work through it. Until then, I'd love to hear what ya'll think.