The Inspired Volunteer

A blog to inspire the Youth Volunteers of Shepherd Church

5 Signs you were meant to disciple students — November 24, 2015

5 Signs you were meant to disciple students

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church

1. When D-Groups break for winter and summer you are glad for the break but sad you won’t see your students….and when 6:14pm rolls around on Wednesday you feel weird because you aren’t at church.

2. You get mad when sickness keeps you from attending Wednesday Night.

3. You constantly fight against the urge to preach to your students.

4. When a student discloses to you personal information a voice screams out within you “yay!!! He/She trusts me!!”

5. You smile when others call you weird for actually wanting to work with teenagers.

Did you relate to any one of these more than the others? I’d love to hear which one. Please comment on the post!

Own It!! — November 17, 2015

Own It!!

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church

Have you ever driven someone else’s expensive car and the whole time you were driving thought to yourself, “I hope I don’t wreck this!” Consequentially you cautiously drive the speed limit and look fourteen ways before pulling out of a parking lot. Because the last thing you want to do is return something to someone worse off than how you found it and betray the trust they have in you.

Since you are not the owner of the vehicle you are careful to stay within the limits set for you and get nervous thinking about something happening out of the ordinary. The goal is to simply return it the way you found it. However, when you own something you go out of your way to make it better. You invest resources and time to care for the asset in your name.

The same is true when you take ownership of your D-Group. You want it to be the best it can be and thus you have intrinsic motivation to go above and beyond the status quo. When you feel you are in charge of the experience students have within your group you do not tolerate destructive comments and conversely strive to show your care in ways not suggested by others. Ownership is necessary for ingenuity.

In an effort to conserve energy and avoid the feeling of failure we look for others to tell us what to do because subconsciously we think if it fails we then have someone other than ourselves to blame. Thus it is tempting for us to refer to the “expert” in areas we lack experience. However, that is not an owner’s mentality. Owners place the mission above their feelings and seek to fulfill their calling instead of seeking approve from organizational leadership. Although leaders with an owner’s mentality may feel insecure with having a lack of experience, they are not afraid to fail to gain the wisdom needed for long-term success.

Listed below are the differences between owners and borrowers. Which one reflects your mindset in leading your D-Group?

  • Owners operate with the goal of achieving the overall mission.
  • Borrowers have the goal of feeling good after completing a given task
  • Owners take calculated risks.
  • Borrowers strictly follow the guidelines and suggestions given to them
  • Owners see failure as an event to learn from
  • Borrowers see failure as a reflection of their ability
  • Owners create new ways of accomplishing the mission
  • Borrowers do what they are told
  • Owners are constantly thinking of new ways to show their students they matter to Jesus.
  • Borrowers only think of their D-Group students from 6:14-8:30pm on Wednesday nights.
  • Owners find their confidence in their God-given identity and thus are not afraid to fail
  • Borrowers find their confidence in their performance and therefore fear failure.
  • Owners appreciate constructive criticism.
  • Borrowers contemplate quitting after receiving correction.

If you have discovered you have a borrower’s mindset in leading your D-Group do not be discouraged. We have all possessed a borrowers mindset once upon a time in various things. However, let me encourage you to see yourself as the sole leader, the owner, of your D-Group. Allow your heart to break for your students and strive to think outside the box in discovering new ways to show your students they matter to God. I have placed you as the sole leader in your group for a reason. I trust you…so own it!

Erasing Invisibility — November 10, 2015

Erasing Invisibility

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church

Have you ever read the comments people write about news articles or book reviews? It amazes me the nasty and disrespectful things people are bold enough to post. It is as if the commenters do not realize they are making remarks about a real person. Would they say those things if they were looking the author in the face? I doubt it.

The boldness internet commentators express in writing hateful and racy comments is gained through the feeling of invisibility. They may think to themselves, “It is not like the author is going to show up at my home and question me about this.” However, what if it was impossible for internet commenters to post anonymously? What if the second a person commented on an article or video they were forced to stand before the author and say those exact comments while looking him or her in the eye? I bet you would see a lot less negative commentary due to instilling a sense of personal accountability.

The same is true for students in D-Groups. Some students make disrespectful comments while siting in a circle of students because they feel invisible. They feel they can hide behind the voices of others and get away with saying something racy for the sake of gaining a laugh. However, it is up to the leader to make students accountable for their comments by stopping group and pulling the student aside and looking him or her in the eyes.

Discipleship group leaders…I am talking YOU! You must take away the feeling of invisibility a student feels while in the group and hold him or her accountable for offending or disrespecting another student. Do not think: “Well, I will just let that comment pass.” Or, “I do not want to hold up the group by pulling that student aside.” NO! You must hold that student accountable. By getting him or her one on one and repeating the comment back to the student. Looking them in the eyes reminds them that words are powerful and they are not invisible within the group. Disrespect breeds disrespect. So, do not allow students to disrespect each other because if you do…they will eventually start to disrespect you.

Follow the steps below when a student disrespects you or another student:

  • Look the student in the eye while in group and say something like: “(Name of student) I will not tolerate comments like that in the group. Would you please apologize to (student’s name) and tell me you will not say things like that again.
  • If another comment is made. Ask the student to walk out into the hallway with you. While looking him or her in the eye say something like, “You just said (repeat the comment), how do you think that made (say a student’s name) feel?” Then say something like, “If you are going to remain in this group I will not allow you to disrespect and offend me or any other student by making comments like that. Can you commit to not making disrespectful comments like that ever again?” (Then…rejoin group).
  • If another comment is made. Tell the student to leave the group immediately and sit in the lobby until groups are dismissed. Call the parents that night and explain what happened and repeat to them the word for word comments made by their child.
Our Heavenly Captain — November 3, 2015

Our Heavenly Captain

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church

“Good afternoon everyone. This is your captain speaking…” We have all heard those words as we sit in a crammed seat trying to fit our carry-ons in the tiny space under the seat in front of us. If you are like me, you instantly zone out and ignore the complex details of the flight. Why do I need to know the airplane is going to be traveling at 30,000 feet? And why do I need to know the flight pattern of the cities we will be traveling over? It is not like we are going to be able to see any of it if we look down.

Recalling this experience my family and I had this past week reminded me of what church volunteering is like. Each of us has complete trust in our “heavenly captain” and so we get onboard with leading a small group despite having a lack of understanding of all that will go on. We merely answer the call given to us by the Holy Spirit and fully expect we will get to where He wants us to go even though there will be times when we think, “I have no idea how to handle this.” However, instead of standing up and asking to be let off the journey, we sit patiently and faithfully in our metaphorical “chairs of service” and trust our celestial pilot has everything under His control.

So what does it look like to faithfully and patiently serve even though we feel as if we got on the wrong plane? It looks similar to what my wife does on the plane when we hit turbulence…pray. The discipline that keeps us peaceful while at 30,000 feet in the air is the same habit that keeps us faithful in leading students to experience Jesus. Instead of focusing on how quiet your students are or how many weeks have passed since a student has given you a glimpse into their spiritual growth, remain focused on your heavenly Father and carry all your concerns to the foot of His throne (1 Peter 5:7). And once you have emptied the concerns of your heart in prayer would you sit in silence and listen for the calming all-powerful voice to whisper to your spirit, “This is your captain speaking…I got you…just trust me.”