Hollison Journey

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” – Don Williams Jr

7 Quick Takes: August 27, 2010

on August 27, 2010

This week I’m doing a theme Quick Takes. I’m about to start my 5th year as a youth ministry volunteer (1 year at one church, 4 years at my current parish). In honor of that, here are 7 things I’ve learned:

1. Be prepared. For anything. I’ve seen a lot over these past couple of years. Pranks. Games. Injuries. Drama. Crisis’. There have been fish in a cabin, broken windows, broken arms, major emotional meltdowns, tears, fears, family issues, personal issues, everything. There have been good things too, like the kid you thought wasn’t getting anything telling you thank you or a shout out in a speech. They are anything but predictable.

2. You don’t have to click with everyone. One of the things I love most about the way the programs I’ve been involved in do ministry is that it is a team. Not only does that help ease the burden of planning and executing but it means that we have 10-15 different personalities for the teens to connect with. I used to get a little distraught that there were some teens that I seemed to have nothing in common with. Then I realized that those teens hit it off with another Core member and I was grateful they had that person. I still try to meet them all and get to know them, but I don’t worry so much if they don’t seem interested in talking to me much (as long as there is SOMEONE they connect with!)

3. They teach me. If I had half the energy and passion in high school for my faith that some of these kids have, wow. I don’t know what would have come of me. I may teach them every Sunday and Wednesday, but they teach me so much.

4. High School never changes. The kids change, the teachers change, the technology changes, the courses change. But the general themes of high school never change. The teens are still clique-ish, they still long to be accepted by someone,(even if they don’t act that way), they still try to be adults with kid brains (and kid sense), and they still think it’s ok to be silly and goofy and loud and crazy, even if they are acting more mature. It’s comforting to know that the standard feeling haven’t changed, even if their environments look different from when I was there.

5. They really are listening. People say all the time that teens don’t listen. Baloney. I remember early on I overheard one of teens telling someone, “Well, I asked Holly and she said…” It was a conversation that I didn’t even remember having. Instant fear flooded my body as I thought “I really hope I said something correct!” (It was.) I learned then and there that the teens really were listening to me and taking what I told them to be true. So I’d better be right when I said it. Whenever I stop and think how much influence my words and actions have on them, I’m humbled. and a little bit scared.

6. There is no such thing as a hypothetical or random question. One day we were traveling to an event and a teen casually asked me about a teaching of the church. I said a few words and then said “Oh, we’ll be talking about that in a few weeks. You’ll learn about it then.” A few days later the teen finally told me that she was dealing with that issue now and needed guidance. I realized that her seemingly out-of-the-blue question had much more to it. I reflected on that moment and observed in the weeks following. Whenever a teen asked something that seemed random or off-topic, I asked why. Almost every single time, it was because of something going on in their lives or in the lives of their friends and family. Since then, I try not to blow off a question or tell them “we’ll talk about that in a few weeks.” If I have to postpone because it’s not a good time, I try to make it no more than 24 hours.

7. They are a lot of fun. High schoolers get a bad rep for not moody, apathetic and a general pain and for not wanting to have fun with adults. Yet, some of the times when I laugh the most is with them. They genuinely like having a good time and they want us to be involved with that fun, not sit on the edge of the room and “watch” them. I have my own personal rules (as well as the church guidelines) on how much time I spend with them because I am an adult, but every time we have meetings or class or events or retreats, I really enjoy their antics and stories and conversations. They have life and energy and love like no one else. I don’t know when we lose it as adults, but we really do. Being with them brings some of it back to me.

More Quick Takes can be found at http://www.conversiondiary.com

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