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This post is a discussion on pornography that was originally posted last May. You can also see Part 2 of this post for tips on protecting your preteens
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The pornography industry is a $14 billion business. It is estimated that 42.7% of internet users view pornography. It is literally ripping apart marriages and families every second.

Here are some of the facts about preteens and pornography…

• Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography: 11 years old

• 15-17 year olds having multiple hard-core exposures: 80%

• 8-16 year olds having viewed porn online: 90%

• Nine out of 10 children aged between eight and 16 have viewed pornography on the Internet.

• In most cases, the sex sites were accessed unintentionally when a child, often in the process of doing homework, used a seemingly innocent sounding word to search for information or pictures.
(Data from London School of Economics January 2002)

• The fourth most-searched word on the Internet for kids ages 7 and under in 2009 was “porn.”

• For all kids up to age 18, sex was No. 4, porn No. 5.

• A recent survey found that 30% of girls ages 9 to 15 years old had sent or received sexual messages or photos of themselves.

• 1 of every 3 that reported to receive “sext” messages said that they accidentally received the message that was intended for someone else.
(Data from OnlineFamily.Norton.com and research from AK Tweens)

Be sure to check out Protecting Your Preteen from Pornography for strategies on keeping porn out of your home.

Whether you’re in ministry 100 years or 1 year, it’s bound to happen. You get stopped in the hall, or you get a phone call to let you know that a volunteer is leaving your team. In that moment, your first thought is, “Who can I get to fill that spot and how quickly can I get them?” However, there are a couple other steps to consider before you plug a new person in.

1. Do an Exit Interview
It doesn’t matter why their leaving your team, those volunteers have valuable insight and a freedom to share it. As the volunteer is leaving the team, it is a great opportunity to ask them about their experiences—good and bad. They will most likely share honest impressions that can be greatly beneficial you as a leader. An exit interview also shows value to that volunteer by allowing them to give input and evaluation to the ministry team.

2. Evaluate the Rest of the Team
Is there someone already on the team that can do this job? If so, would it be a good move for the team? There have been several times that a small group leader has left the team and a replacement was right under my nose. There are substitutes and assistant leaders in your ministry that may be ready to take the plunge into a full time role. Before you put it in the bulletin or stand on stage to announce the opening, consider those that are already on your team.

3. Take the Opportunity to Fill In
If you are able to find a replacement for a departing volunteer before the following Sunday, let me know how you do it! Most times, the process takes a little while longer. In that waiting period, take the opportunity, if possible, to substitute for that position. I have found that putting myself “in the trenches” can really help me to better understand what my team members need.

4. Celebrate the Volunteer that is Leaving (and do it publicly)
I am guilty of not doing this one enough. When a volunteer leaves, we focus on replacement, not celebration. The few times that I have paused to celebrate the volunteer have been great experiences. Celebrating the volunteer shows them and the other volunteers that their service is invaluable. Praising and celebrating a volunteer in front of their peers, especially those that are leaving on a sour note, gives them a lasting memory that is positive and encouraging.

5. Prayerfully Seek the Person to Fill the Position
Ministry is a beast that must be fed. As you read this, you’re thinking, “This is all nice, but Sunday’s coming!” I know that feeling very well. You need someone to plug the hole, and you need them now. Let me encourage you to spend more time seeking God and who He has for the position than you do actually searching for that person. You can run out and find the first willing body that feels sorry for your predicament, but it’s much healthier for you and your team to find a replacement that has been called and ordained by God for that position.

If you’ve never shared Christmas with a 16 month old, I highly recommend it. It was a special time at our house as we got to discuss God’s gift of Jesus (or “she-suz” as our daughter says). The lights, the presents, and visits with family were all so much fun, but my favorite moment was one small present.

The present was a small 5×7 photo frame that held a blessing for our daughter. The blessing is an affirmation of worth and calling. The blessing is to help our daughter recognize her purpose in God’s story, and to request His presence in her life. It simply reads:

You are a blessing from God. He created you in a wonderful way for a wonderful purpose, and He has great plans for you.

May the Lord show you His grace and peace each day, and may you shine His light to the world in everything you do.

We wrote this blessing and placed in the frame so that it could be a part of our every day routine. Each night as we prepare for bed, we hold the frame in the lap of our daughter and read these words to her. It has become a part of the routine that she expects and reminds us to do.

When she opened the gift, she tossed it to the side in favor of some toys and crayons, and I know she doesn’t fully understand what we’re saying to her as we read the words. However, I know that the daily reading of this blessing will help her to understand her value to God and help us all to rely more on Him for her upbringing.

If you are a parent, especially of a preteen, I encourage you to find a way to bless your child. In a period where they are seeking value and purpose, a blessing can help them to focus on how to engage the purpose that God has created them to fulfill.

If you’re interested in learning more about writing a blessing or being a part of a new movement related to a child’s blessing, check out Blessing Your Child by Dr. Trent & Focus on the Family.

If you’re a sports fan, you’ve probably heard the recent news about University of Georgia football coach, Mark Richt. Apparently, Richt violated NCAA policies by paying his staff members out of his own pocket because he felt they weren’t fairly paid. Randy Chambers, with BleacherReport.com, reports that Richt and his wife have 2 checking accounts. The first is for their own needs, and the other has become known as “the giving account.” This account was used to help his staff members when they were in need.

For example, Richt personally paid an assistant coach’s 5-year bonus of $15,000 because the university refused to pay. The coach had taken another job just shy of the actual 5-year date, but Richt did the right thing and paid the bonus. According to multiple reports, Richt used over $25,000 of his personal money to compensate his staff.

While the NCAA may need to “punish” him for breaking a rule, don’t you want to work for someone like Mark Richt? He literally put his money where his mouth is to show his staff that they had value to him. That is a sign of great leadership.

I can remember attending Catalyst a few years ago and hearing John Maxwell speak on “Adding Value to People.” The main point of his message was, “If we don’t value people, we will devalue people.” Maxwell gave these 4 points on how to add value to people:

  • Value People
  • Make Yourself More Valuable
  • Know and Relate to What Other People Value
  • Do the Things God Values

Here is his talk from Catalyst: