When Life Hurts ...

This was taken during the Youth Work Conference 2014 where I was a member of the live blogging team. If you have never been before then 2015 will be a great year to join in as the conference structure changes and we shall be having one big sleep over!

For now though, this is what unfolded in this seminar ...

Wayne Dixon is kicking us on as we seek to look at when life hurts for both youth workers and young people.   (this is live so sorry for any mistakes!)
Wayne works for Christian Connections in Schools and is based in Slough, he loves schools work but recognises that some times it is hard! He supports Arsenal Football team.
This morning we shall try and cover 2 areas:
1) Young people we come into contact with
2) Us - Youth workers
Life hurts when ...
  • parents separate
  • bereavement
  • exam results
  • self harm
  • suicide
  • and lots of other things
Wayne is involved in HAM (hanging around ministry) he goes in to schools with a remit of delivering a session but makes himself available to young people in break times. Wayne loves wandering round, hanging out in common rooms, eating and chatting to young people.
Listening and Caring is very important - Wayne shares a story of a school prom where he just turned up, his name was not on the list and the security would not let him in. But a young person vouched for him. Whilst dancing and hanging out with the 6th formers a young man opened up to him concerning a serious and deep matter. The informality of the situation created a relationship that facilitated a moment of grace. Wayne views this still to this day as a significant moment in his experience.
We just took 30 seconds of silence, Wayne reminds us of the need to be able to listen to young people. This can be hard for those activists amongst us!
Wayne is sharing honestly about his childhood experience and a time when he had asked God "if you are really God why did this happen?" Wayne was massively helped by his church leaders who loved, supported and listened to him. He was also impacted by the bible, particularly the life of Paul who knew persecution and yet still praised God.
But we need to be aware of INAPPROPRIATE bible verses! There are times when it is great to share a verse as an encouragement but we need to exercise care & sensitivity. Listen to the spirit but relationships are key to discerning when and when not to share.
Wayne is sharing how he supports GCSE students with an Exam Attack presentation that he has been sharing for 23yrs, he recognises that many young people commit suicide over the pressure of exam stress. As Christian youth workers we can support young people and remind them that their worth is not based on exam success (sorry teachers!).
Anniversaries - Let people know you are thinking of them. It doesn't have to be a big grand gesture but just a simple note to say 'I am thinking of you' can make the world of difference to people who are hurting. Others will forget, lives do move on but for those affected by a loss anniversaries can be gut wrenching.
Wayne recommends Journeying Through Bereavement In Schools by Ian Terry (Grove Booklet) and Water Bugs and Dragonflies.
Also visit This Way Up www.twup.org.uk
Wayne reiterates the point of referring young people on as and when necessary. You are not an expert in everything and we are not on our own. We stand together as a community. We learn things from each other. Passing on is a sign of strength not weakness!
  • Real
  • Authentic
  • Genuine
  • Yourself
We are all different and its super important to be yourself but also to learn from others. Wayne recommends trying to spend the 1st term not delivering but journeying with another worker and seeing how they outwork their call. This can be tricky though as you may want to copy or imitate others but God has designed you to be beautifully unique, so honour who God has made you and what he is calling you to do.
We are sharing stories...
In the closing moments we are considering when life hurts for us as youth workers. Wayne shares when it can be useful to share our stories with young people of times that we are scared, hurting. Being real with young people helps them to see the reality of life as a Christian. We are not immune from painful situations. But the power of journeying through those times and coming out the other end is something that others need to hear. Your story is valid!
Time to pray ourselves out! Remember our pastoral care team are here all weekend, if you would like someone to pray for you please do ask at the info desk