The Inspired Volunteer

A blog to inspire the Youth Volunteers of Shepherd Church

Let It Go — March 16, 2016

Let It Go

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church

Often times when I leave the office I load my backpack with books just in case I will need them at home. However, the more I have to carry a heavy load the more difficult it is to think about anything else besides when I can set my bag down.

What’s true about carrying heavy backpacks is true about letting disturbing comments made by students dwell in your mind. Have you ever had a student say something in your group that made you feel uneasy? Did you have the thought that maybe you should tell someone, but didn’t? As a result, how many times did those comments loop in your brain making you feel concerned?

Disturbing comments made by your D-Group students bug you because you care about them. You want what is best and are bothered if they divulge details that cause them to experience anything less. So, what do you do?

When a group leader asks me what they should do in response to a bothersome comment made by their student the first thing I ask is: “If you were the parent of this student, would you want to know this piece of information?” The answer is rarely “no.” Think about it. If you want to help this student, wouldn’t the best thing to do is give their most influential person details they could use to help them? If your response is, “Well, their parents have more issues than their own child!” It doesn’t matter. You are not the protector of this child. You are their D-Group leader and not responsible for their upbringing. Their parents are.

Now I realize some information needs to be spoken directly to Shepherd Youth staff for legal reasons (see volunteer handbook for details), but issues of non-abuse can be directly stated to the parents.

Telling parents about disturbing things their child is saying relieves you from playing “Savior.” It reminds you that you have your own kids to raise and releases the disturbing looping thought in your mind.

Benefits of informing parents of their child’s disturbing comments:

  • Allows the parent to know the issues their child is having and to get the appropriate help.
  • Allows the parents to stop things that are causing the problem in their child’s life.
  • Creates trust between you and the parent and reassures them you will come to them with future issues.
  • Relieves you from having to worry about an issue you have no control over.
  • It is wise.
Annoying Pebbles — March 1, 2016

Annoying Pebbles

Post by: Garrison Polsgrove
Youth Discipleship Pastor at Shepherd Church

The other day my daughter started walking with a limp. I did not think much of it at first, but as her limp continued she began to fall further behind. I know, I know. You are probably thinking I am a horrible dad for letting my child walk behind me, but don’t worry. There were plenty of strangers around to watch out for her. I kid, I kid!! My wife was following behind her so it was all good.

As we continued to walk, my daughter stopped and aggressively sat down and pulled her foot up to her chin. She un-velcrowed her shoe and ripped it off. As she turned her shoe upside down, a small pebble fell out. My wife sat next to her through the process and helped her put her shoe back on. Once she stood back up she took off in a dead sprint.

I think what happened to my daughter’s walk happens to our lives. The smallest of unconfessed sin, unresolved conflict, and unspoken hurt can slow us down from keeping in-step with the Spirit. We desire to fully hear the Spirit’s voice, but our buried hurts overcome the Spirit’s leading. Our unresolved issues are not inherently stronger than God, but the power we allow those issues to have makes them so.

Have you hurt someone lately and need to confess your wrong-doing to him or her? Is there a debt someone owes you that needs to be canceled for your own well-being? Is there a fear that needs to be voiced so it loses it power?

What I love about D-Groups is it provides an opportunity for students to clean out the shoes of their hearts. It offers a space for them to express to a trusted adult the issues drowning out the voice of the Holy Spirt. Often times the best thing a mentor can do is sit. It’s what my wife did as my daughter rid her shoe of the annoying pebble. Sitting and listening to students’ hurts, fears, and sins may not sound powerful, but it is effective. After all, you may be the only person in that student’s life who expresses a desire for he or she to be free of what hinders the sprint towards experiencing Christ.

Galatians 5:25 (NLT)
“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”