Transition: Part 2

Posted: June 30, 2012 in community, hospitality, junior high ministry, middle school ministry, needs

For those of you who missed my most recent blog post, I reflected on what it felt like to be in transition. My wife and I have been in full-fledged transition for what feels like the past 12 months. In fact, when I look back at our lives one year ago today, it almost makes me chuckle at how different our lives are now. New state, new job for me, new job for her, new friends (though we haven’t let go of the “old” friends, so don’t worry), new lives together. While it is all very exciting, transition is never the easiest thing to process.

And, as I mentioned in the last blog, this has everything to do with the lives of middle schoolers too. Everything about their stage of life is transition. Transition to high-pitched voice to bass-toned voice. Transition from 4’0″ tall to 6’0″ tall. Transition from kid to teenager (or adult). “Changes” is the name of the game.

As we experienced our own transition, I tried to take note of the things that people did that made the transition easier or even more fun. With the hopes of understanding some new ways that I can help middle schoolers in the same way, I tried to record my own emotions and responses (as well as my wife’s) to the people who went out of their way to minister to us in this transition. Here are a few quick things that made our experience better:

  1. Invitation. Whether it was the people back in Colorado who invited us to a special dinner to celebrate with us before we left, or the people here in Lexington who invited us to simple things like watching NCAA basketball with them on the day we arrived, the invitations always made us feel incredibly loved. At some points we almost had more invitations than we could handle, and that’s a good problem. It’s hard going to a new place and wanting to get to know the culture and people without being too presumptuous. When people extended invitations to me and Nicole, the transition felt like normal life to us. And wasn’t Jesus a master of invitation too? He knew the effect it had on people. An invitation is a beautiful request to share lives. When was the last time you invited a middle schooler to share some aspect of your life?
  2. Intentionality. I have to admit that I’ve been a little jealous of my wife since we’ve been here. So many women have been intentional with asking her out to coffee, grabbing a bite to eat, or even joining a Bible study. I don’t know if there’s a special personality trait that all of these women share, but it’s as if they knew coming to a new state would be difficult for us. Nicole would leave for hours at a time, sharing lunch or coffee with lots of different women who had been intentional with her. Are we that intentional when middle schoolers are going through transition? Perhaps a better word here would be empathy. Do we empathize with middle schoolers as they go through so much change?
  3. Grace. If you got a hold of a transcript of my conversations over the past few months, I’m almost positive one of the most-repeated words of mine would be “sorry.” I find myself apologizing a lot for not knowing little things like how the copier works, or who to talk to about ministry event details, or other things of that nature. Thankfully I work with an awesome group of people who have shown so much grace to me, knowing that it would be a steep learning curve. (I am especially thankful of our administrative assistant Mallory, because I honestly don’t know if I could have survived without her constant grace and help.) Obviously grace is sort of a big thing for Jesus. Jesus was and is the master of grace. In light of this, do we show enough grace to middle schoolers who are in transition? When they start acting up during worship, do we just get upset and discipline? Or do we stop to think about where they’re coming from? This is a big one that I’m still learning, and one that probably needs its own blog post.

I am trying to learn not just from the example of people who made this transition a better experience for me and my wife, but also from the one, Jesus, who really exemplified these traits.

How might your own middle school ministry change if you started being more invitational, intentional, and gracious? If you are a parent, how might your relationship with your child be affected if you employed more invitations, intentionality, and grace in your family?

  1. Great stuff brother! Thanks for being so open and vulnerable. I’d love to have you guest blog with me sometime. Shoot me some thoughts on “guy-girl” dating relationships. My whole summer series is called “Relationships:the good, the bad, the ugly.”

    Thanks man!


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