The Inspired Volunteer

A blog to inspire the Youth Volunteers of Shepherd Church

Tripping on Comparison — October 20, 2015

Tripping on Comparison

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church


The other day I was on a treadmill at the gym trying to watch a football game on a TV positioned slightly to the right. After about five minutes of straining my neck my foot stepped off the moving tread and I almost fell and broke my face! Luckily I caught my balance and kept running. Although, I’m not sure if I was more shaken up by almost falling or by the thought of everyone in the gym laughing at me. Needless to say, my interest in watching the football game was no longer there.

The lesson I learned on the treadmill that day reminded me of what happens when I take my attention off becoming the person Christ has called me to be, I fall. When I start to look around for people’s approval to justify what I know Christ has called me to do I get tripped up in self-doubt and insecurity. I hate when I do that! So why do I?

After much thought I have come to the conclusion that I start to look to others when I lose intimacy with Christ. When I stop reminding myself of how much God loves me. When I stop talking to Him throughout the day as I drive and as I sit in Starbucks. When I stop asking Him to use me everyday to bless the people I see. When I stop asking the Holy Spirit to convict me and instead take to heart other people’s critical remarks. When I stop seeking my approval and worthiness from Christ I begin to look around to get it from others. How silly it is to seek a compliment from creation when I can daily accept a truth from the Creator.

Being involved with discipling students can be a thankless job, especially when your students care more about what student is the cutest than how Christ wants to use them in amazing ways. It is tempting to compare yourself to other volunteers or other groups and question whether you are doing it right. Although there is nothing wrong with learning from others, it is always destructive to place rank on your involvement. Focus on being the best discipler of students YOU can possibly be and leave others to do the same.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

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Discipline as Discipleship — October 13, 2015

Discipline as Discipleship

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church.
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It is no coincidence the words “discipline” and “disciple” share the first seven letters. Both words come from the Latin root words disciplina and discipulus. Disciplina means “given instruction, teaching, learning, knowledge” and discipulus is the object of “given instruction, teaching, learning, and knowledge.” Thus, grammatically speaking a disciple is the object of one’s discipline.

Many of us do not see discipline in its correct light because we have all inevitably encountered someone who has abused the responsibility of instilling disciplining; an inconsistent teacher, an abusive parent, or a boss who dished out discipline without any respect or love for the person. Thus, when we are given the responsibility to discipline we shy away from exercising such power because we are still haunted by the memory of an abusive disciplinarian in our past. We may have even said the words, “When I’m in charge, I’ll be nothing like the parents I had!” Or “When I become a leader I am going to be more understanding than the leaders I experienced.” Therefore, instead of seeing love and discipline as co-contributors in the disciple-making process we see discipline as the enemy of love, or at least plan “B” if the whole love thing doesn’t work out.

“Those who spare the rod of discipline hate their children. Those who love their children care enough to discipline them” Proverbs 13:24 (NLT). Now, I do not mean to create a debate about whether spanking children is biblical, but rather highlight the wisdom principle this verse communicates by viewing discipline as a means of showing love. Tolerating disrespect from your students and allowing them disrupt the group does not show that student you love them, but rather it shows you love yourself in that you get to avoid having to deal with conflict.

Conflict that arises when you discipline a student in your group does not induce lovey-dovey feelings within you. However, discipline communicates you love them enough not to allow them to act in a way inconsistent with the character of Jesus. Afterall, in the sporting arena, don’t the players a coach wants to improve the most receive the most discipline for their incorrect play? Rudy Hagood said it best, “Love your kids [D-Group students] more than the way they make you feel.”

If you are experiencing disrespect of any kind from your students make an effort this week to put an end to it. Instill the discipline methods layed out below and at the same time show your students you love’em.

Ways a D-Group Leader should instill Discipline:

  • Ask a student to leave the group (Sit in the lobby until group is finished)
  • Call the parents and ask for their child not to return to group the following week and have the student assess whether he or she wants to participate in a respectful manner from here on out. (Notify Garrison if you choose to do this)
  • Bring the student to Garrison or another Shepherd Youth Staff member after group ends and speak with his or her parent together.
  • Ask the student to sit outside the room for five minutes. Tell them you will get them when you are ready to have them back.
  • Call Garrison and discuss the possibility of him or her not returning for the rest of the semester.
2 Myths About Mentoring Students — October 6, 2015

2 Myths About Mentoring Students

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church
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1. Students will like you

In student ministry it is difficult to find ways to judge your effectiveness. However, judging your effectiveness by the level of excitement students express when they see you is not one of them. In fact, having likability as a goal will cause you tolerate disrespect and ultimately ruin your credibility as an influencer. Students do not want another friend who gets his or her approval from their fickle emotional responses; students want a secure mentor who knows his or her position in Christ. It is totally fine and normal for a student you are mentoring not to talk to you with the same excitement level they posses with their friends. As long as they are showing up and looking you in the eyes while you listen and talk…you’re good. Work to make a difference, not a friend.

2. It will always be rewarding

Get ready for the long car rides home asking yourself, “Why am I doing this?!” I have made ministry my vocation and I still drive home on various nights thinking that selling insurance would be more rewarding (No offense to insurance brokers). I question my involvement when I start to treat the practice of mentoring as if it were a business where output is proportional to input. False! I wish it were that easy. However, ministry is about exercising faithfulness to fulfill a calling not satisfying a balance sheet; save the profit/loss bottom lines for the executives. Success in student ministry volunteering is measured by the amount of times you say, “Yes,” to the Holy Spirit’s calling to show up and give of yourself. A volunteer does not determine his or her success by quantifying data given by their group but rather by questioning the faithfulness of their sacrificial involvement invoked by a calling given by Christ.