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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.

Last week, I entered a time of rest. My family and I rented a cabin in the Ozark Mountains, and we just got away for a few days. It was an awesome time spent with my wife and daughter, but it was also a sweet time of peace for me.

I decided before leaving for the trip that I would not be taking my computer or anything work related. I limited the use of my phone to a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes at night. Our daughter is 1 ½ and needs naps, so we worked naptime into the schedule for everyone each day.  I spent the days resting, connecting with my family, and just having a good time.

I’ve been guilty of stuffing vacations so full of activities that you need a day to recover from the vacation! This time was different. We shared some great family time, but it was much more about taking a moment to catch up and breathe. I’m so thankful that my wife got to have that time, and I feel blessed and refreshed after our trip.

I hope that you can take a moment in this season to get away and rest.

5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
   my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
   he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
   he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
   pour out your hearts to him,
   for God is our refuge.  

Psalm 62

 

As I was walking through the halls of church this morning putting the finishing touches on Sunday’s setup, I ran into a mom who brightened my day.  It was a very brief encounter, but what she said was full of encouragement. As I walked away with wind in my sails, I thought about the power of encouragement. 

Here are a few ideas for encouraging others:

Catch them in the Act
Everyone likes their work to be noticed.  A toddler will bring you a piece of paper that looks like a crayon box threw up on it, just to say “Look what I did!” It’s in our DNA to be recognized for what we do.  If you want to encourage others, try to catch them in the act of doing something well.

Praise Them in Front of Others
The mom that spoke to me this morning shared how she was also talking with another mom…about me!  That’s not always a good thing, but this time it was.  It really encouraged me that they both thought enough of my actions to have it be a topic of conversation.  If you want to encourage others, hold them up as an example of excellence in front of their peers.  This will breed more excitement and determination in everyone because they see that you value their contribution. 

Encouragement002

Use Brief Comments
I typically think of encouragement as being a card, an email, or a gift.  The reality is that personally delivering a few encouraging words is much more effective. The conversation I had was only 1 to 2 minutes long, but her words have given me energy for the day.  It even prompted this post!  If you want to encourage others, take a moment to speak words of encouragement to them.  Gifts and awards are great, but don’t forget the power of your words.

 Use Their Language
This is a tough one because it requires you to really get to know the person.  Our staff has been learning about the differences in personality and how that affects communication.  What we’ve learned is that each person receives encouragement differently.  For example, if you told me that you were proud of how I kept a smile as I stacked boxes, I would not be very encouraged. I would thank you for your comment, but inside I would be thinking, “I stacked 482 boxes and all you saw was a smile??”  This is because my personality type places a high emphasis on dedication and achievement, not so much on feelings or sensory.  A better word of encouragement for me would be, “Thank you for all your help. I saw how many boxes you stacked, and I just want you to know that it means a lot to me.  You worked very hard, and I appreciate that.”  Those words would be like manna from Heaven for me!  The point is, if you want to encourage others, be observant and find out what really motivates them.  Everyone has a root motivator that leads them to do whatever it is that they do.  If you can find that root and speak specific encouragement to it, then your words will always resonate in the heart of the person.

How can you encourage others today?