I was recently leading a support group with 7th grade students. During one of our introduction activities, a girl started to share — and then paused. She thought for a moment, and then said, “My answer is from The Bible. Can I talk about that here?” This is the constant question of students around us – students who live in an unsafe world – Is it okay to say what I feel here? Or the deeper version – Is this a safe place? I opened it up to the group, and the consensus from the seven other students in the room was that she could share and not be picked on or made fun of in our circle, despite many of the others in the room having vastly different beliefs. Seventh graders don’t typically ask if a group is safe unless they have spent time in spaces that aren’t.
Hopefully you have already listened to part 1 of the interview with Casey McCollum, where he began to introduce the Enneagram and how you can find your own type. The Enneagram is an incredible tool that can lead to transformation in your own life. In part 2 of this interview, Casey McCollum will cover some of the childhood messages and spiritual disciplines for each of the nine types. Casey will also give suggestions for other Enneagram resources if you want to learn more about this system. Let’s take a step in self-transformation so we can focus on helping those around us. Listen to this episode for another introduction to the Enneagram and how this tool can help you help teens!
The Enneagram is a powerful tool that has gained popularity recently. Maybe you have heard of it? Maybe you have already taken a test or read a book to discover your type? Maybe you have no idea what we are talking about…Whatever level of knowledge you have about the Enneagram, you are in good company. Join this conversation with Casey McCollum as we begin to introduce the Enneagram and how you can use it for personal, relational, and spiritual transformation. In part 1 of our interview with Casey McCollum, we will introduce the Enneagram with a brief overview and history. Casey will also cover how the Enneagram is different from other personality tests you may be familiar with and advise on some best practices for discovering your Enneagram type. We believe that you will be better equipped to help teenagers when you are your best self. Listen to this episode for an introduction to the Enneagram and how this tool can help you help teens!
Hopefully you aren’t tired of celebrating 10 years of Teen Life, because we would not be celebrating if it wasn’t for YOU. This year, we are thankful for many things, but as we reflect on Thanksgiving Day, we can’t help but show our appreciation to those who have been part of Teen Life for the last 10 years, and especially to those who have impacted the life of a teenager. So here we go…
November is one of the only times of year that is set aside for everyone to be thankful. We are thankful for food, family, and football. But especially right now, many people seem to be struggling with thankfulness. Maybe they aren’t thankful for our President Elect, their job situation, the fact that Texas doesn’t have a real Fall…the list could go on and on. But teenagers and our kids are watching us! If we aren’t thankful, why should they be?
A while back, I received a text from one of our volunteers asking to meet in person. This particular person was an influential volunteer for Teen Life and had been really active with us in the past. But I felt like something was up. This person was always someone who communicated more over text and email and rarely, if ever, asked to meet in person. It turns out I was right. My friend had ended up losing their job suddenly and was asking for prayers and any guidance on finding new work related to their field. I really felt bad for my friend. Part of what we talk about in Teen Life volunteer trainings is the idea of using our intuition as a listening device.
*This post was written by one of our facilitators, Sarah Brooks. Sarah is a blogger, mom of 3 boys and social media expert! She has spoken across the country at various groups, churches, and schools about social media (the good, the bad, and the confusing), most of which stemmed from a post she wrote called Parents: A Word About Instagram. Sarah currently facilitates a High School Support Group in Fort Worth ISD.*
I had a mild panic attack the morning I was set to lead my first Teen Life group. When I started looking over lesson one, I was shocked by how personal the discussion questions were. There was no building rapport, no easing in to sensitive topics with these people. No – right out of the gate, they expect me to walk into a group of teenagers I’ve never seen before, teenagers who are presumably hurting and/or experiencing significant life crisis, and ask questions like, “On a scale from 1-10, how do you feel about yourself?” and “How much do you feel others care about you?” For real??
I was recently in Oklahoma City to train a group of youth ministers. With some extra time, I made a stop at the Murrah Federal Building Bombing Memorial and Museum. What caught my eye more than anything else were the two gates erected at either end of the memorial. The first reads 9:01, the minute before the bomb exploded. The second reads 9:03. The explanation marker says it was designed to represent all of the time before the explosion and then the moment healing begins. Pause for a minute and let it sink in – a gate dedicated to the moment healing began. Scripture tells about the Israelites erecting stones to remember the crossing of the Jordan. Therapists create memory boxes with clients experiencing grief. People have sentimental key rings or stuffed animals or pieces of jewelry, such as wedding rings, to commemorate major life events. We call these markers.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to the final concert of Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour. Now this is not a post about Taylor Swift herself, but her newest album tackles an interesting topic that teenagers and young adults are identifying with everywhere – reputation. Whether for good or for bad, your reputation impacts how others look at you, treat you, speak to you, or think about you. In the world we live in today, reputation follows teens everywhere. It is on social media, and it keeps them up at night through texts and pictures. Can you imagine? Used to, in order to control your reputation, you just had to get to people with your version of the story before anyone else. Now, anyone can write the narrative for you – through social media posts or a text, or an unfortunate picture or video. It is enough to give you nightmares!
*This post was written by one of our facilitators, Josh Hardcastle. Before moving back to Abilene in 2016, Josh facilitated groups in Keller ISD. Now, Josh is the High School Youth Minister at Southern Hills Church in Abilene, TX where he lives with his wife, Whitney, and their two sons. Teen Life is so thankful for the way Josh pours into the lives of students!*
I’ve been in ministry for a little over 5 years. I’ve seen successful and connected students come through my ministries, and I’ve seen disconnected and lonely students as well. I saw students coming in to our class time on Sunday mornings 5 minutes after I would start teaching and bolt as soon as I finished with the final, “Amen” of class. It broke my heart when I realized something: they didn’t have a consistent person investing and pouring into them.