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My students

January 11, 2010

In August I started working for Sharpsburg Family Worship Center. The main thing I do, my job description is youth pastor. This post is about my students.

I love my students. Plain and simple. God has really given me a heart for them and each time I think about them or interact with them I think that heart grows.

We have all kinds of students. Good ones, bad ones, ones that think they are good, and ones that think they are bad. Rich, poor, clean and dirty we love them all.

There are kids that come from healthy families and kids that come from the worst of the worst in terms of home life. They all need attention, they all need  to know that you care.

Each student seems to grab your heart in a specific way. Whether it’s a smile, or a filthy word they use; there is something about each one of them that grabs your heart and breaks it.

Your heart breaks because you know their parents don’t love them the right way. Your heart breaks because they don’t see themselves as any good. It breaks it because you want them to love Christ. My heart breaks because I know if God doesn’t do something… I pray that God would save them.

I love my students.

*just needed to get this off my chest.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2010 10:58 pm

    nice.

    tell em every week.

  2. January 12, 2010 4:07 am

    Wow you’re on a roll.

    First of all who the heck are you to judge their parents? There is but one judge of we humans, and you ain’t him.

    Second of all do not rag on anyone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes and speaking of living a charmed life? Ben you’ve lived one. You have no idea how these people have lived, the hardships that they go through each and every day. You have no idea what it takes for them to get through the freakin’ day. Wow. You’ve been getting a bit sanctimonious lately but this takes the cake.

    You can sit in your nice little apartment and judge those ‘bad’ parents all the day long but maybe you might add some prayer for those parents too.

    – Cindy who btw was a REALLY bad parent before I was saved only three short years ago. And today by the grace of God I am what I am. And no, I don’t think I’m perfect, even though I come from ‘that’ church.

  3. Benjamin Davis permalink*
    January 12, 2010 4:45 am

    CindyK if I took the line out about the parents, would it have been a good post? I don’t know what it is like to walk in a parents shoes. You are right, I have lived a blessed life without the really bad aches and pains of life. However I don’t think that I am acting or writing like I am morally superior.

    I just know that my heart hurts when a junior high girl comes in to youth group and tells me that her dad beat her over Christmas break. It pisses me off to see kids come in hungry, without food in their bellies because mom drank all the money away. It is painful to hear the horror stories from students about how their mothers boyfriend beats their mother and they can’t do anything about it.

    You are right, I have never walked through any of that stuff, and ultimately I can’t judge them, but I am not going to act like every parent is perfect. Maybe I should have explained some of these stories before so that I would be more clear when I said:

    “Your heart breaks because you know their parents don’t love them the right way.”

    Thanks for reading. I am sorry that I made you unclear about a few things. I hope I cleared them up. Thanks for reading CindyK!

  4. January 12, 2010 5:16 am

    Moses didn’t have to be a slave to lead God’s people out of slavery.

    Jesus didn’t have to be a parent or married to give wisdom to families or couples – He didn’t have to be a prostitute, pharisee, fisherman, farmer, old man, woman, tax collector, demon-possessed, heretic, king, leper, blind man, murderer, etc… and yet He brought eternal change to all of them.

    Sure, life experience helps us empathize & understand but we cannot limit God’s ability to speak/love through us to only those whose shoes we’ve filled.

    Christ understands & loves every person – He lives in us.

    Being Jesus w/ skin on is difficult because our humanity gets in the way.

    Win students to Christ, disciple them into strong Christians, release them to do the same. In the process, parents, families & friends will also see the light and love of Jesus.

    Learn to listen, find the truth in every harsh word, don’t defend… learn. love. and, keep pursuing God’s calling & purpose.

    There’s no perfect youth pastor (or parent) – there’s enough coming against us – let’s not allow division to rob us from the bigger picture.

    … two cents worth from a parent of 5 and 20 year youth pastor (who happens to live in the innercity of Detroit) … not that any of that gives me credibility – I’m sure I’m flawed too!

  5. January 12, 2010 5:20 am

    Ben,

    I think the original post is borderline judgmental. I have every confidence that you weren’t condemning the parents of the students, but like my parents always tell me about tone of voice when talking to authorities, “your intentions don’t mean anything. What matters is what they perceive”. To CindyK, the post came across as judgmental. I think adding in the specific stories diffuses the judgmental edge. No one can stand and make an argument that a father beating his daughter is how a parent’s love should look.

    Cindy K, I don’t think Ben was approaching the parents as if he is better. Like he posted a few days ago, “Sin Levels the Playing Field”. Because of sin, Billy Graham is on the same level as I am on the same level as those abusive parents. Now obviously, some of those people mentioned are followers of Christ and more spiritually mature than others, but that in no way shape or form makes them better. You know?

    Joey Lawrence, a renowned photographer (who’s only like 20!) writes to his fans in and FAQ section about his homeless gallery, “In order for these pictures to work, you need to first consider why you had to think of specific strategies to photograph homeless people. If you treat them with the same dignity and respect as any other subject you may photograph, it will go a long way. True- mental illness is common, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they are regular people also living in reality.”

    I think he is spot on.

    Rodger

  6. Carol Mc permalink
    January 12, 2010 6:06 am

    I happen to know of some of the kids in which Ben is speaking of. I know some of the specifics. I know a lot about some of the parents that are referenced here as well. Ben is allowed to be human about ( I happen to agree with what he said) what is happening.

    The only place that I would have taken issue is if he started to name kids and parents by name. As far as “knowing” who is being spoken of, just because we don’t speak of it will not make it go away.

    Yes I am a parent, yes it is tough, no I am not perfect, no I don’t always get it right. But I will never take the excuses “you don’t know what it’s like”, “It’s hard”, “don’t judge, “I had to do what I had to do” as reason to make bad decisions when you are responsible for another human beings life. I am happy to hear when people turn it around and find Christ, but it does not entitle you to be angry with people for condeming the wrong type of behavior. No that isn’t right yes you may be angry however don’t feel that any incorrect behavior is justifiable by others because you were there. That doesn’t make it okay.

    Ben knows there have been times I haven’t agreed with how he posed some things but this isn’t one of those times. I think in a way it takes a stronger person to see the cracks and what is falling through them; then acknowledge that there is a problem by pointing it out to others. Than it does to sit there and hope someone else notices it too.

  7. January 12, 2010 11:31 am

    I hear your heart. It is great to read how much you love your students.

    I read the parent comment, and my initial reaction was I feel where he is coming from. On the other hand I though…hmm that could be taken the other way that you know what’s better than parents do.

    Parent and Youth Pastor relationship is a tricky one.

    To be honest sometimes the best thing do is be a little political when it comes to parent issues.

  8. January 12, 2010 6:14 pm

    First just let me say that sometimes I’m a jerk, my previous post being proof positive of that. Secondly, Ben, I apologize for being a jerk all over your blog. I was wrong to post that in the way that I did.

    But I still have very strong feelings about this, and I will try to express those feelings in a clear way without animosity. And Ben you know I love and respect you, or at least I hope you do.

    I have no doubt that there are children in danger, and I’m praising God that he’s given you a heart for them. But I do wonder if posting about the worthlessness of their parents in a public forum is wise? Their parents know they are worthless. They feel they are evil already, and that they are unworthy of redemption or that there can be no redemption for them. They don’t need any reinforcement in that way, and I guarantee that it will only make matters worse.

    Loving someone and praying for someone and believing that they will be redeemed is different from trusting them and allowing their actions to continue. And it’s different from standing up for what is right. I encourage you to actively stand up for what is right.

    If you honestly believe that there is a child, or children in danger you need to do something about it. Something practical. Call the Police, call Child Protective Services, call their parents or grand parents or teachers. Do something. Stand up for them, be their champion, in a way that a champion for Jesus would be. If you know stuff is going on, be willing to go to the mat for them – literally.

    But I can not endorse a random complaint that says “we all know who they are” as a way of putting a stop to it. The guilty parties know who you’re talking about too. Bring it out in the open and into the light of truth. God’s truth. But not on the internet where the only thing that can happen is added condemnation. Do it as discreetly as you can in the real world.

    And try as hard as you can to see them through the eyes of Jesus, because he loves those broken, unworthy parents too. They are not evil to him, they are his children too. They are worthy of redemption.

  9. January 12, 2010 6:25 pm

    And yes Ben if you want to talk call! I’d be happy to talk to you always. I hate texting so much. heh.

  10. Laura permalink
    January 12, 2010 11:16 pm

    I have too many web blogs I’m signed up for to justify signing up for another, so I’m piggy backing here…but I can’t just let this go and not say anything.
    I don’t think judgment is being passed in the original blog….and I don’t think that this is necessarily one of those times where you have to have walked in another’s shoes to understand the “rights and wrongs” of a particular situation. It’s pretty clear that some kids come from really crappy home lives. And it’s pretty clear that sometimes the people who are supposed to be protecting and nurturing them don’t always choose the most effective ways to show their love. I think its our jobs as fellow human beings to look out for those families and do what we can to constructively help them. Even if that simply means praying for them. I worked in child care for years…mandatory training includes training on how to identify abuse (of all sorts) and know when to make that anonymous call. Thank goodness I never had to….but I think it’s pretty important to know when to make that call. CindyK makes a good point – if you think the situation is bad enough, by all means do everything reasonably in your power about it. Blogging about your feelings is great (you should see my LiveJournal blog….) but don’t lose sight of what God has called you to do. Sometimes it means doing the uncomfortable thing and making that call.

    ~Krista (Laura’s sister 🙂 )

    Ben- I think it is awesome that you have the guts to post your heart here for everyone to see. It is unfortunate that people feel you are judging them because you are making general observations about things around you. I grew up in Sharpsburg. No, my parents didn’t beat me or anything, but we weren’t part of the rich kids club either. But I was raised with an open mind and know that there were and are worse things out there. I don’t feel that stating the things you see is the same as say straight out “so and so is a BAD parent”. I saw it as a way to open other people’s eyes to the lives that you are trying to introduce to God. I hope this “controversy” doesn’t make you decide to stop blogging. I enjoy reading what you have to say.

    Laura

  11. Benjamin Davis permalink*
    January 13, 2010 4:03 am

    CindyK I love you too! Glad we talked on the phone today! That’s a first for me to call a commenter.

    Thanks for all the input guys!

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