06: Kelly Minter on Trauma and Grief That We Are All Experiencing, and How To Help Students, Children and Families

Making Sense of Ministry episode 06 on trauma and grief

In this episode, Kelly Minter, a therapist, 20-year youth ministry veteran, and author of our popular articles on grief joins us for a conversation around trauma and grief that Covid19 has caused everyone to experience. Your youth ministry, children’s ministry, and family ministry are impacted by grief, and this episode will help you navigate ministry during this season.

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Speaker 1: 0:01

Welcome to the making sense of ministry podcast presented to you by the youth ministry Institute, a podcast designed to help you lead well in your ministry, transform lives and impact generations. Here’s your host, Brian LawsonSpeaker 2: 0:14

friends. A welcome to the making sense administry podcast, episode number six in case you weren’t with us in the last episode I announced that we were launching, why am I online and we launched last week and it’s been received so well. We’re so excited about it. Why am I online is an online learning platform fill with courses designed to help you grow as a leader. Friends, it’s such a great opportunity for you to learn a home. It’s affordable and these are practical courses and to celebrate a launch for very limited time as in maybe just a few days left after we launched this episode, we are offering a free course so I encourage you to follow the link below in the show notes or head over to our website and sign up for your free youth ministry Institute online course. I really think that you’ll be glad you did and I think that the people around you as you start to take these courses will see you grow as a leader.Speaker 2: 1:12

The guest on today’s podcast is Kelly mentor. Kelly is therapist here in Florida, the state of Florida. But more than that, she also has over 20 years of youth ministry experience. Uh, she was involved in getting student leadership voice heard on the conference level in the United Methodist church. Uh, so she is bringing both a youth ministry perspective as well as a counseling perspective to this conversation and to the time that we’re all facing right now. In case you’re curious, Kelly uh, works through elbow tree counseling here in Florida and she is taking new clients and she does take clients virtually. So whether it be yourself or if you know somebody that you would like to recommend or to after you’ve heard this episode, um, I’ll put her contact information in the show notes. Hey Kelly, welcome to the podcast. Appreciate you being here. Thank you for having me. So you’ve recently written several blogs for us about grief. I think we’ve released two up to this point. Uh, we have another one coming and then you also have been working on a video series that is on YouTube, which we’ll put it in the show notes, uh, called ASCA therapist. I’m just curious, what was your inspiration for particularly those videos and when you started releasing them?Speaker 3: 2:31

Yeah, so I, I get a lot of questions specifically from teenagers or families that know me about therapy and what does that look like and what’s the purpose of it. And I was sort of noticing that people have a lot of misconceptions about what therapy is and what the point of it is. Things like, Oh, we’re not going to go to couples counseling because that’s what people with real problems or that’s right before your divorce. That’s when you go, um, my family doesn’t have issues, we don’t need to talk about this thing because my kid will just grow out of it. Those types of things. And it just became clear that one of the things that I could do with my particular skillset is communicate and everyday terms what therapy really is and what would happen. I just kind of had this thought in my head, what would happen if you could ask a therapist anything and they would be honest about their answer. And so I don’t answer anything that I can’t be honest about, but my first one was, what do you really think about your clients? Because I think that’s, uh, something that people think about a lot. What does my therapist think about me? Do they think I’m making a mistake? Are they judging me? That sort of thing. And that’s just not something that you do, but I can absolutely understand why somebody would think you would. So just demystifying therapy and making it an everyday option for people was sort of my goal.Speaker 2: 3:53

In your first video regarding grief, you talked about memes a little bit, which I thought was, I thought was interesting because I’m somebody who really enjoys memes, but I’m horrible at like trying to put them together. So I just don’t. Um, but there’s been so many since, um, we started with the Covidien crisis and the pandemic that have released, one particular comes to mind is the, the one from back to the future where Marty or doc tells Marty not to go to 2020, which I felt less so accurate. Um, but, uh, I was just wondering if you could explain, I think you mentioned that memes are sort of a coping mechanism. Um, I wonder if you could explain that a little bit for us. Um, and maybe also if you have an example of one you’ve seen recently and how that might be sort of a coping mechanism.Speaker 3: 4:42

Yeah. So coping mechanism wise I don’t think means are necessarily a harmful one. There’s, there’s harmful, and there’s not harmful coping mechanisms, but we all need ways to cope with things. Right? And so part of the issue that means address is that we feel really isolated from each other, not just during Kobe, but across the board. And people feel like their thoughts are unique, but not in a good way. You know, my feelings, nobody else feels this way about their life, about their job, about their kids, about their spouse. And then you look out there and someone has actually gone through the trouble to make something that mimics what you feel and you feel, you feel seen, you feel like you’re part of a community, you’re together with someone else that also has those feelings. You don’t feel so alone. So that coping, coping mechanism wise is super important.Speaker 3: 5:37

I think at this time. Um, where means get difficult. I think I addressed this in one of the videos at least where it means get really difficult is when it puts another group down in order to make the particular group you’re targeting with the meme feel better about themselves. And that is, it’s just destructive, you know? So, um, but for me, I mean I’ve got a group of friends that I just send means to their, in their memes group in my, in my text messages cause I love them. I think they’re hysterical. I think right now seeing someone else publish something and you’re like, I resonate with that. I feel, I feel like you know me and we’re in the same boat right now is especially important. So I think they’re, I think they’re really good. One of my favorites isn’t necessarily, um, I can clean it up probably, but it’s, it’s essentially that the devil whispered in my ear, you’re not enough to make it through this trial.Speaker 3: 6:30

And I whispered back six feet back, insert preferred expletive here. Um, you know, and I just think that’s so funny because I think that’s, I think that’s one of those things that anybody can sort of relate to right now, whether you’re a believer or not, you know, the idea that you’re not enough and the idea that you can’t do this is just really prevalent in all of our lives right now. And that’s, that’s to do with our levels of expectation of ourselves. But I just think that the idea of empowerment that says, I have a rule that you can not come near me now. And even the government says, so it was just really, I just think it’s really funny. Um, but honestly some of my favorites are the ones where parents are being really real about what homeschooling looks like while they’re trying to work from home. Because I just, man, I’m having trouble. I’ve got two dogs, I’ve got no kids, I’ve got two dogs. And it is sometimes a nightmare. I can’t even imagine how y’all do with kids. Oh my goodness.Speaker 2: 7:24

You said something interesting about expectations. And one of the things that we’ve noticed talking to youth and children and family ministers is there’s a huge amount of discouragement out there. And the first it was they, they were going to try everything and it was going to be, um, fantastic and kind of fun. But then as this has carried on longer, longer attendance has dropped a little bit and what they’re doing now, they’re concerned about how do they reenter that with their programs. So there’s a huge amount of discouragement really floating around. And I wonder, how do we, how would you think that we manage that discouragement and how do we set reasonable expectations for ourselves?Speaker 3: 8:15

Yeah. So I think that one of the biggest things that people need to understand right now is that their expectations for themselves, the reason they’re unreasonable right now is because they’re based on a productivity and a functioning that does not exist. And so I quote Maslow’s hierarchy of needs a lot. He has some really great things to say about what you need and when in your life. And the first two levels are physiological and security and that’s physiological things like your food, your shelter, your water, um, those kinds of things and things. Your body needs, clothing, things, your body needs to survive. And then second rung is safety needs, which is security of your person, security of your stuff, security of your employment and security of your resources, which is really where at this point it hits most people. If you’re not somebody who’s in an at risk category, you’re, we are being told by those in charge that you don’t have to be as afraid of, you know, the potential air around you.Speaker 3: 9:21

Um, but even so, you don’t know where, how much longer is your company going to be able to pay you? How much longer are you going to be able to get the resources that you need? You know, everybody likes to make a big joke about the toilet paper hoarding in the beginning, but stepping back and looking at the understanding of what we were going into, of course people, people were starting to panic for their resources. And so that, that’s what happened. Like that’s just what happened. The expectations we have for ourselves happen on Maslow’s hierarchy, which is love and belonging and esteem and self actualization where we find, um, we, we find ourselves in our work and we find that people telling us we’re doing a good job means something to us and helps to build us up. Right now somebody is saying, you’re doing good job.Speaker 3: 10:09

A lot of us, our first thought is, well you don’t see me every day. You don’t see the mess that I actually am. You know? And we’ve all sort of slipped down these rungs to our processing in level one and level two. And in those areas you don’t have things like fulfillment from your job. You don’t have things like creativity, you don’t have things like problem solving and acceptance of facts. Those are all higher rung processes that are not applicable when you’re very safety of resources or safety of the job or safety of body are at risk.Speaker 2: 10:41

Do you think this calls into question any unhealthy sense of identity we had before this? Like is this exposing any of that do you think?Speaker 3: 10:50

I think a lot of that is yes. Um, I also think a lot of that is shining a light on the actual human need that we do have for acceptance and for love and for approval. But any of our, any of our less than productive self images or processes that we work with in our own understanding of ourselves or understanding of the world has been magnified now. Because when you’re relying on other people to reflect back to you what your worth is and the other people go away. You’re living in a house with no mirrors now and you’re wondering what you look like because you don’t know.Speaker 2: 11:31

Yeah. Wow.Speaker 4: 11:33

SoSpeaker 2: 11:35

you have tied, I think in in part two of our series on grief, I think you tied trauma and grief together.Speaker 4: 11:42

[inaudible]Speaker 2: 11:44

so those who may not fully know, could you maybe give a, a general understanding of what trauma is and what grief is and then how they might be related particularly in this situation?Speaker 3: 11:54

Yeah, definitely. A lot of people will hear trauma and think, well I’m not in a trauma because I have a roof over my head or I have a bed, you know, and, and I have healthcare or I have this, I have that. It doesn’t matter because we’re in a collective trauma at this point. And so one person not having it makes us all fear what we also may not have. And trauma doesn’t have to be a specifically experienced thing by you. It’s something that calls into question your ability to survive something. And so, um, a trauma potentially is defined by anything that causes a deficit or a disturbance in your everyday processing. And the way that it affects you will determine the level of trauma. And that’s something important for you to understand because if they haven’t, if they, we live in a world that understands things incorrectly about, I’d say 85% of the time because it does not you admitting you are in a traumatic experience that when a collective trauma does not take away the pain of people who are being taken advantage of in a, in a much deeper way, you know, it doesn’t, the amount of grief and pain that are out there are not finite.Speaker 3: 13:12

And so you don’t take some from someone else when you admit your own. Right. Um, but there are people who feel, feel guilty and feel bad about the idea of naming this as trauma or naming this as grief because they feel like, well, I’m really lost anything. I haven’t really, you know, I still have what counts like fuck up Buckaroo kind of thing. And that, that, uh, had a conversation with a friend the other day who was like, well, isn’t that just a saying life’s not fair? And I was like, yeah, yeah, that is saying life’s not fair. And so what’s your point? And they were like, well, well, yeah, life’s not fair, so just suck it up. I’m like, right. The implied suck it up is the problem with the statement. Life’s not fair. You can make the statement, life’s not fair and understand that life’s not fair and then feel that pain, feel that unfairness.Speaker 3: 13:56

Or you can say life’s not fair and so suck it up and move on. And that’s where you stop someone’s process, right? So when grief comes in, we’ve lost so much. The understanding of what we’ve lost as a collective, as a society, and the understanding of what we’ve lost personally will continue for months, if not years after this. And that’s not to make people feel discouraged. That’s just to be realistic about our expectations. It will be things that continue for years that we don’t realize it’s connected to this until it becomes obvious. And at that point then we’ll deal with it. Cause people’s processes are different. But the grief, the trauma that we’re experiencing, the trauma that we are currently in as a collective, we are grieving the loss of security. We’re grieving the loss of safety. We’re grieving the loss of safety of the very air we breathe.Speaker 3: 14:51

You know, and you can’t put a timeline on that, but the idea of, so everybody’s heard of the stages of grief, right? Talk about that all the time. And it’s generally understood to be a linear thing. And unfortunately it’s just not, there’s a lot of different models out there. But for me, I subscribe mostly to the seven stages, which is a modified Kubler Ross model for you psych people out there. And it starts with shock because there’s a period of, wait, what? It, it doesn’t matter if it’s conscious, it doesn’t matter if it’s subconscious, there’s always a period of wait, what just happened? What’s going on? And then there’s denial, which denial is active, it’s active clinging to the understandings you had before the grief hit, right? So if it’s someone who passes away, you’re actively clinging to the idea that maybe they’re not gone.Speaker 3: 15:49

Um, if the situation that we’re in right now, people actively clinging to the idea that it didn’t hit teenagers or I’m not as Matic or immunocompromised, so I’ll be fine. So would a desire to jump back into normal if you will be. You think a form of denial? I think it’s a form of denial or of bargaining. Um, I think that cause anger comes right after denial in the, in the linear equation of it. Anger will come right after because that’s a floodgates opening of all your emotions. Cause denial is denial of your emotions. Denial is denial of your fear of your frustration of your, I don’t know, joy at the fact. You don’t have to go into your office every day, whatever that is, whatever that emotion is, um, you’re, you’re holding it back because to accept the emotions and to express the emotions mean means you’re starting to move towards believing this is a thing, you know?Speaker 3: 16:39

So then you got anger, which is where everything comes flooding out and anger is a protective emotion. And so, um, anger is not, not actually a primary emotion. It’s a protective emotion. It’s a very, very important one that we all need to be in tune to you because it protects you. It’s protecting another emotion. And so when you feel anger at something, if you have a ability to take a step back and what is the anger protecting me from, you know, what, what am I not feeling in order to feel the anger. But then you get into your bargaining, which is the best description for bargaining over her bargaining that I’ve ever heard is seeking in vain for a way out. And I think that in vain part is so, so important. And I think that’s that order or the denial is where the, the idea of rushing back to things of getting back to normal and getting back to where we were before because it’s not, it’s not, that’s not a thing. That’s not an option. We will never not know what we now know. We will never not watch governments around the world and depending on where you stand, maybe our own fail there. People in the way we’ve watched it, you know? Yeah. And going to be a collectiveSpeaker 2: 17:50

change in how we even approach contact with others. I think some people will be very upfront and obvious and they know what they’re doing. I think though, there’ll be subconscious changes that some people don’t even realize, especially in the United States. I don’t think we’ll ever look at mask wearing the same again because I think we used to always think of as for other countries, um, and now and which has probably a prejudice in its own self. But um, but now it’s suddenly here, right? And it’s this thing that is a new realitySpeaker 3: 18:22

and that’s one of those things that I think people who are super angry about wearing masks are super angry about the restrictions that are still out there. Um, or people who aren’t angry about it. It’s so easy to get angry at people who don’t deal with this. The way that we deal with it, you know, because we see that whatever it is, people who are dealing with the situation differently than us, the different is a threat because we’re processing in level one and level two and everything that does not look the same as threatening. And we don’t respond to threats the same way. Right now we can’t because the threats are more real than they’ve been, are real on a very different level than really they’ve ever been before in almost any of our lives.Speaker 2: 19:06

So to understand grief a little better, to help us make sure we, we know how to recognize it, um, probably within ourselves and also the people that we’re leading and serving. Does grief have sort of an age range or do you think that are, you know, children that are four or five, six, seven years old experience it. Um, and, and if so, what would that look like? Do you think of a child?Speaker 3: 19:32

Yeah, so I think it doesn’t matter how old you are. Um, I, I tend to view grief similarly to how I view love. Um, you can grieve to the level of your own life experience. You know, um, you can love the level of your own life experience. Why do we look at love differently as we get older? And it doesn’t mean that love before that wasn’t real. It means it was different cause our life experience and life understanding was different. And I think the same is true for grief. A child, a, any child who’s able to feel emotion, is able to feel loss and is able to feel grief, they will exhibit it very differently than even a teenager would. Um, or even an elementary school age child would. But our understandings at that age, as, as babies, as toddlers, as elementary school folks, even middle school people, you’re really looking at an understanding of the world through the lens of your parents or your caregivers.Speaker 3: 20:32

And so anything that is exhibiting itself in the parents is going to be seen as scary, um, and as a threat until they understand it, until they can, can give it a shape, you know? And so for a lot of kids that looks like, um, I have a lot of friends who have toddlers who stopped taking naps all of a sudden stop taking naps. They’re like, I don’t understand why. I’m like, it’s, I can explain why for me to explain why to you. And I actually had this happen the other day. I tried to explain it to a friend of mine. They’re like, Oh, I think they’re just growing out of it. I’m like, okay, that’s, and that’s fine. But also that’s probably not actually what’s happening. Um, they’re reacting to what’s happening around them because they are also in tune with it. And while it hits on a different level, because as you know, a picture of five-year-old has only had five years of experience on this earth, but something that is impacting four months of a five-year-old’s life, that is a higher percentage of that child’s life than a 40 year old.Speaker 3: 21:37

Right. So it feels longer to them because that’s all they know, you know? And so in some ways, some of them are processing this as more extended than older people are, you know, because that’s the lens they have to see it through. But for a lot of them it looks, it looks like more clinginess for some kids. Um, it looks like tantrums. It looks like arguments. It looks like, um, confusion and sensitivity and sleep disturbance. That’s what it looks like in a lot of kids. Yeah. Um, and then we get into teens. You’re really looking at things like lack of interest in things around them. It looks very similar to depression, which is hard. I think for a lot of people right now is you know, where’s the line? When do I know if my child needs serious help or if this is something that’s going to go away. You know, once things get back to normal at phrase that is so elusive because it doesn’t exist, but that’s fine. You know, it’s different. Yeah. Which is everyone’s favorite phrase right now, right? Yep.Speaker 2: 22:49

To the leader or that has kids at home or to the leader talking to parents.Speaker 3: 22:54

How much ofSpeaker 2: 22:57

their own grief should they allow their kids to see do you think? Because if it’s feeding, if it’s feeding from the parents into the kids,Speaker 3: 23:07

what’s the balance there for the parent?Speaker 2: 23:12

I have to imagine the parents probably carrying it around with them all the time anyways. So what would you suggest for them on, do they allow their kids to see that? Do they try to manage how much they see of it? What would you suggest to either the leader who has kids at home or they’re working with parents who have,Speaker 3: 23:30

yeah, I think it’s, I think it’s really important. This is a really interesting time. Um, a really opportune time to start talking to kids about feelings and the way that kids understand their feelings, the way kids understand their emotions is through the lens of those in charge of them. And so it’s, it’s not, it’s mostly parents, most significantly parents over anybody else in their lives, but teachers, um, leaders on TV, their youth leaders, any of that, they understand it through seeing someone older than them deal with similar emotions and what they do with that, you know? So I think it is important to have some sort of check in time with their, with their child. It’s a touchy kind of a thing because it depends on what your relationship was with emotions before this started because you have to address that. If you didn’t really talk about emotions, you didn’t really show a lot of your emotions or a lot of your troubles to your children before this. And now it’s on, you want to sit down and have, you know, heart to heart conversations with about it. They’re unlikely to be really open to that idea initially. Um, but consistency is really important. If you decide if as a, as a parenting team or a leadership team, you decide that you are going to have regular check-ins. Having the regular check ins, whether it’s responded to or not is what’s going to make those safe places for people to check in. So for instance, parents, um, you could do aSpeaker 3: 24:54

daily, might feel like a lot daily, might be a lot to start out with, but every other day, you know, at this time we all just kind of sit around and have a safe space to talk where it’s not going to have repercussions for later. You know, um, where, you know, the kid’s not going to say something like, well, I just kinda phone did it on my test the other day. And then the next day when you’re talking about their homework, you bring that up. You know, what’s brought up during that time. Can’t be used later as ammo to get people to motivate. Right. That’s just not ever do that. No, not at all.Speaker 3: 25:28

I just don’t, and that’s the thing, that’s something that I see on a regular basis in, in, you know, family who, families who try to have shared times and stuff and kids who are like, I’m not going to do that because I’m not going to give them ammunition for later, you know? So during this time they’re going to be super heightened to that. But going first in sharing times, you know, I just want to talk about what you’re feeling. Um, I talk a lot about the feelings wheel and that is such a good tool for all of us because some people are raised without knowing what their emotions are, you know?Speaker 2: 25:57

Yes. And you know, I actually had never heard of that prior to you mentioning it. One of your videos. So I looked it up and you know, I’ve, I don’t think I’ve been the worst person at identifying emotions, but I definitely had room to grow. And I think if anything that will show that to me.Speaker 4: 26:16

Hmm.Speaker 3: 26:17

It’s, it’s really helpful now to start now to recognize that our emotions have purpose and our emotions have names, you know, and, and giving them a name, it, it essentially. Okay. So you’ve heard that the story of Rumpelstiltskin is common and true to the psyche on so many levels. I can’t even explain. You’re stuck in a situation. You’re looking for something to get you out. You have, you know, a magical that you can’t name and you do what they want you to do and then you get out of it. Right? But you’re stuck. That is the cycle of all of us in our emotions. That’s how that works. And so giving Rumpelstiltskin his name, you know, and identify takes his power over you out, but still recognizes that that is a significant part of your life, you know? And so it’s the same with emotions.Speaker 3: 27:05

That’s how emotions work. So the emotions wheel. My favorite one, I think we’re going to link in the description, right? Um, this one I’ve printed out and I have copies of it in my office and a copy of it on my wall because, so the center section has very common names for emotions. And what you do is you look at those and you pick one and then the, the pie shapes and the circle are color coded. So then you go to the second rung of that color and you pick one of those words in the second rung and then you go to the third wrong and pick any of those words in the third wrong. And it’s almost like a like a three layer to your emotion. It’s getting through your first, second and then to your third year core layer of where something came from. So you might be angry about something, but in reality you’re embarrassed. But you needed that thing laid out in front of you to say, Oh, I’m actually embarrassed about this and I feel I feel not good enough in this area. And so it came out as anger. I get that. NowSpeaker 2: 28:02

one of the things that we teach leaders is self awareness is really important. And I think this is even during normal times, right? So not during what’s going on right now. When you walk into a situation and you feel something inside of you, um, you need to know what that is and you need to know where that comes from so that you manage it so that it doesn’t control your response to whatever the situation is it’s going on. It’s, it’s like a self check before you go into the situ. Um, and so when I saw that wheel, I was like, wow, this is really great to kind of help leaders, uh, with, with their own development to pinpoint where those things are coming from. Um, and potentially an event that, that I would imagine has, they’ve experienced that maybe contributing to her.Speaker 3: 28:49

Yeah. And that’s, and that’s the thing, people don’t always know where their triggers come from and you don’t always need to, but there’s reasons why people are just doing something that seems super mundane and then they’re covered in a wave of embarrassment or sadness or whatever it is. You know, that the feeling is connected to something in their past. But once they know what the feeling is, they’re able to address it better and they’re able to handle it better. And when you can handle your emotions and face the reality of the fact that you have an emotion and it’s okay to have an emotion. Oh my gosh, is it okay? We all do, right? Like we all have emotions. So it’s fine. It’s what we do with it that makes it good or bad.Speaker 2: 29:30

Okay.Speaker 3: 29:30

And what we do with it that makes a difference to those we leadSpeaker 2: 29:36

knowing that, um, it’s a traumatic experience for everyone knowing that it’s very likely that every single one of us are experiencing a level of grief. Um, how, how best would it be for them to go about serving those that they serve?Speaker 3: 29:51

So I think one of the things that is most important right now for us to understand is the, it goes back to the discouragement portion that you were talking about earlier. We feel discouraged because of people’s lack of engagement, but people’s lack of engagement is simply assigned to us about what is going on in their lives. And so if people aren’t engaged, man, is it hard to keep this in the front of our heads and ministry? But it’s not about us. It has nothing. It’s just not, it’s not about us. It’s about what’s going on in their lives and what do they need right now. And remembering that it’s not a personal attack on us if people are not engaging in our programming right now. Um, and remember that people are very confused at what they need. And so you are not, I say this to some of my better friends that aren’t going to take offense to the statements.Speaker 3: 30:53

I’ll just say it to everyone. Listen to the podcast, right? It makes sense. You’re not actually God and you’re not actually Jesus. And that reminder is important right now because there is not a way to solve what is happening with people. And we want to, we want to solve it and want to fix it because number one, it makes everything back to normal and we feel more comfortable. And number two, it gives us a sense of purpose that we are missing right now because nobody’s really sure what their purpose is at this current moment. And to do that is to put our needs in front of theirs. Right? So keeping what you do in check is really important. And by that I mean check your motivation before you do something. If you are doing a senior celebration, are you trying to keep it as close to what you normally do? Because that feels comfortable for you? Are you trying to do it because that’s what makes you feel like you can still recognize this milestone, these kids’ lives? Are you doing it because they need that? And you’re helping them to get that? Like what are you doing and why are you doing it? And if it’s, if it’s a satisfying needs in our own lives, that’s not necessarily wrong, but you need to be realistic about what you’re trying to accomplish.Speaker 2: 32:07

Wow, that’s such a great question to be asking because you’re right, I think that there is a level of people doing things to make it feel normal. Um, and, and at times that might be what people need, but not always. And often I think right now it’s not what they need. Um, it’s, we need it more than they need it. And, and I think that that’s an important question to ask ourselves. So we need to ask ourselves the motivation, right? What’s the motivation behind this? Um, would you say we need to,Speaker 3: 32:40

the things going on within ourselves for sure. When we think about the motivation, that’s where things start to come up for ourselves. Motivation is, you know, um, I want to stay important in these kids’ lives. If we’re that real with ourselves, Oh, that’s going to bring some stuff up. You know, what’s going on in me that I, I want to be significant in these, in these kids’ lives. And am I not getting fulfillment other places because I, and so I need this fulfillment here, or is that an okay feeling? Those kinds of questions come up. And the problem is there’s not a lot of forums to have those conversations right now. And so that’s kind of, that’s kind of where we get ourselves stuck, right? Is we don’t have the time. Even for some reason in this current situation, our pace is still less than manageable.Speaker 3: 33:26

And so we don’t take the time to really process those things and see what it is we’re trying to gain versus what is it we’re trying to give. And you need to gain some things and you need to give some things that’s balanced and um, but, but identifying what those are and who you’re trying to get a gain for and whether or not you’ve heard the needs from that person is really important. And I mean, I will admit that this is something that’s gonna be a little bit easier to do. The smaller your group is honestly, because if you’ve got 40 seniors, you’re not really able to sit down and talk to each of them individually. Or maybe you are. That would be fantastic if you could, but it’s less than realistic to assume that you’re going to sit down with each of them personally and have that conversation about what do you need to celebrate this milestone so that you can move on to your next one. Because that’s part of the thing right there. They need in the things that we’re doing right now, we need to be able to normalize our emotions and normalize our current functioning in order to move on to whatever is next.Speaker 3: 34:27

But the idea in the beginning I think from a lot of people were let’s keep things as normal as possible. Let’s keep doing what we were doing before, keep things, you know, keep things structured and that sort of thing. And that made sense to everybody in the beginning and now we find ourselves at a place where you know, that might not apply because what does school look like in the fall for college students? What does it look like for high school students? What, what happens in the fall, you know? Or what happens the summer when the normal things we Mark our summers with aren’t going to be there. And what do we do with that? Because you can’t keep making things normal in a world that is no longer normal.Speaker 4: 35:04

Right?Speaker 3: 35:05

Like at that point, you’re cleaning to the past and you’re encouraging other people to clean to the past and not proceed into the future. So that’s not helpful anymore, you know? And so the best answer, the absolute best answer would be to sit down with each of those students and ask, you know, help them to figure out what it, where it is they’re at and what their processing is. And, but those conversations, making spaces where you can just kind of talk about feelings and you name feelings and you encourage other people to name feelings is a great step towards helping to understand what is next. Somewhere along the line, youth ministry got um, a reputation reasons. Ministers and youth ministry got a reputation for not being structured and that reputation could maybe help us at this point. It’s interesting to me to see people who really, really, um, bucked structure cling to structure.Speaker 3: 35:59

Now like it’s a life raft. You know, like you didn’t want anything to do with structure before, but now you’re like, I have to have structure. Like, no, you have to have structure. That doesn’t mean it’s what your kids need, you know, um, and paying attention to both is important, but really giving space for things to happen is important right now. Um, because it’s not just about programs and it’s not just about getting kids from point a to point B anymore. The discipleship paths and stuff that we have laid out that those can’t apply right now. And that’s not to say don’t use them, not say they’re not important. But right now the more important thing is how are people internalizing and processing what’s going on so that wherever we’re going next, they are healthier. They are prepared, they are maybe more in touch with themselves. You know, that they are able to see the creation that God has made in them and that they are able to, they know they’re able to stand things cause they stood through a storm.Speaker 2: 37:07

I love that you say to give them space and that programs aren’t the answer right now because I think that that is so important for people to hear right now. So often the people who get discouraged is because their students aren’t attending their zoom meetings or their, their live program that they put on Instagram or something of that nature, which can be fun. I think for my girls it’s been important for them to go to zoom meetings where they could talk to friends and have some sense of community and laughter and joy and that’s great and has its place. But the answer is not that you know the, the answer like you have said is, is the listening and is that the help them process what is happening around them and within them. And I think in the church we make the mistake of thinking discipleship has only education.Speaker 5: 38:03

Mmm, okay.Speaker 2: 38:04

Because this, this is discipleship. This is teaching them about the ways that they’ve been made and understanding themselves. And by understanding that, I think that they’re also understanding more about faith and about Jesus. And in reality, how you help them through this and guide them through this is going to make it easier for you to talk to them at greater depth about Jesus later. Right. Because they’re now going to have this positive association with you that they want to hear more about what you have to share with them. Right. So, so I personally, I think it is discipleship, but we get stuck in this loop of feeling like we have to have a program and we have to have a lesson and it has to be a certain way.Speaker 3: 38:48

Yeah. That plan that, that like 52 week plan that we are all encouraged to put in place, which is not bad. That’s not a bad thing, but that didn’t leave room for a pandemic that destroyed everything that we assumed was Holy about youth ministry. Right, right. Absolutely. Absolutely.Speaker 2: 39:06

The idea behind this podcast is that sometimes ministry doesn’t make sense that things are overwhelming or we’re confused or maybe we just started and we’re trying to figure things out or we’ve been doing it a really long time and this pandemic has sort of just made nothing makes sense anymore. Um, so what, what kind of encouragement would you leave for our listeners?Speaker 3: 39:26

Yeah. I think the biggest encouragement I have is that you are the expert on you and that’s the only expert you have to be. You’ve lived with you your whole life and you’re the only one who has. Um, and so if you’ve got a gut instinct about something, your, your insides are telling you to take a break on something or to push forward on something. Listen to yourself, trust yourselves as much as you can. Continue to trust yourselves more because wherever we’re going, we’re going with who we have with us right now, which is us, right, which is yourself and there’s not running that. Um, which sounds a little scary, I think maybe less than encouraging sometimes, but honestly that’s a beautiful thing because you are, you are able to do what you’re able to do at any more than that you’re not responsible for. So trusting yourself and letting yourself off the hook a little bit. Maybe a lot of it depending on who you are would be my biggest, um, statement for people right now.Speaker 2: 40:29

Well, I really enjoyed that time with Kelly. I hope friends that you heard that, um, that first off, why am I, and personally I believe that you are also, all of us are experiencing a level of trauma and a level of grief right now. It might look different for some of us and we might, um, show that differently. But we need to be aware of that and to be a good leader for those around us, we also have to lead ourselves well. And that means that we have to handle this thing that we’re dealing with this trauma and this grief. And I also hope you see that the kids, the students and the families that you serve are also experiencing a trauma and grief right now. And so I hope that as Kelly said, you consider what your motives are as you’re planning in the future, especially in the near future.Speaker 2: 41:19

Thinking about, uh, you know, why am I really doing this? What is my hope and desire for this thing that I’m planning right now? And is it for me or is it for the S for the students and families and children? And I think maybe that’s a question we always need to ask, uh, that we should always ask ourselves what’s the real motivation and driving factor behind every decision that we make? Sometimes I think we’ll find an answer that, um, that we love and that we know we’re genuine. And then other times, if we’re real honest, I may not be an answer we really like. Um, but it’s a good habit and something we should consider. Well, friends, that’s all I have for you today. I hope this show was encouraging for you. I hope it challenged you maybe a little bit and maybe made you think about things slightly differently. If you enjoyed this episode, would you please leave us a rating and I would love it if you actually wrote out a review. I read every single one of those and I would love to see them share this with somebody you think who would benefit. Don’t forget to snag your free youth missions to online class before. Um, the, the offer disappears. Don’t miss out on that. And until next time, friends, uh, hope we helped you make sense of this thing we call ministry.Speaker 1: 42:34

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