A college campus is a place of growth, laughter, tears and learning. As students grow to the intended goal of graduation, we have the privilege of watching them and waking alongside them. At the conclusion of their undergraduate education we gather to celebrate them.
Recently I sat in a service for two freshmen young men. It was a service of celebration for their lives, loves cut short by an automobile accident. The service was meaningful and beautiful, with speakers who knew the students. It is amazing how quickly bonds form on a college campus. Yet despite all the good that this service offered to friends, faculty, staff and the family, it was still out of order. This isn’t how we are meant to celebrate lives on a college campus, but it is life, and sometimes life is messy, getting thing out of order.
I am grateful for the Campbell University community and how we care, celebrate and grieve together. Prayers continue for the families.
Depression and suicide are things that still plague our teenagers (our society in general really), and until more resources are devoted to mental health that is likely to continue. For some, the problem seems so large and it feels like there is nothing they can do. One artist is taking a swing at making a difference, using the platform that he knows best, music. Check out this video by Logic:
The video is a story of a young man struggling with his sexuality, which is appropriate as suicide among LGBTQ+ teens is higher than among their cisgendered peers. It is well worth your time to watch, talk about with teenagers in your sphere of influence, and to consider how you can make a difference. Regardless of your ideological take on issues of sexuality, each person that attempts to or commits suicide is someone’s son or daughter.
How do I make a difference?
- Have conversations with teenagers about loving their neighbors and peer advocacy. Check out the Trevor Project for ways to support LGBTQ+ teens
- The song’s title, 1-800-273-8255, is the National Suicide Prevention hotline. Scan their resources.
- Pay attention to changes in the behavior of teenagers around you. They may be crying out and need an adult to simply hear their cry. Need to know what to look for? Start with this artcle from the National Institute for Mental Health
- Consider hosting a Mental Health First Aid training in your congregation, school or community.
CYTI is the Campbell Youth Theological Institute. High school students begin a journey exploring how their faith and calling impacts their understanding of vocation and mission in the world. We like to think of it as standing at the intersection of faith and vocation. During a two-week residential experience on our campus, students will study with and serve alongside faculty innovators in their fields, caring coaches and mentors, and other students asking similar questions.
The fields of study include divinity, social entrepreneurship, restorative justice, public health, engineering and social work to name just a few. Students will be challenged to consider what it means to live a Kingdom-life in whatever vocation or setting they find themselves. God is calling each of us. The questions to answer are “to what?” and “how do I hear?”
There will also be plenty of time for serving where the community has invited us to participate, and for reflecting upon how God is at work in the immediate situations, but also how God can use us to work towards addressing systemic issues behind those situations. Our devotions, worship and discernment work will focus on raising our awareness of hearing God’s call and how to be faithful to it.
Over the next several months, we have asked several writers, thinkers and professionals to answer the question of what it means to stand at the intersection of faith and vocation. Their words have challenged us, moved us and inspired us. We cannot wait to share them with you.
More information can be obtained through the “Contact Us” boxes on the front page. We will also roll out a video very soon, as well as an official registration page through the Campbell University website. Until then, save the date: July 16-29, 2017, and consider if this is a program for you or the high school student in your family, church or community.
Some drink too much. Some curse extravagantly.
Some eat too much. Some exercise too much.
Some are Republican. Some are Democrat. Some are neither.
Some worry too much. Some use the f-bomb to explain what they do not care about.
Some discuss hard issues about faith and the world…and doubt.
Some think they have all the answers…and are certain.
This group I’m describing are all people I know who are deeply committed to their Christian faith, and I couldn’t help but think of them in light of a recent conversation about holiness, where the discussion turned to what felt more like rules of how to act. I must confess that holiness as many use it is a dangerous construct for me. Its a frozen dogma or stagnant principles. It is used more for exclusion than inclusion.
Are there norms that Jesus described for his followers? Yes. You can find them pretty neatly laid out in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Yet I cannot help but think the things we use today to describe being (or acting holy) would be foreign to a bunch of fishermen, prostitutes, zealots, and tax collectors with whom Jesus dined, kept company, and called as his disciples. I don’t intend to make excuses for my or anyone else’s actions that are not in keeping with the previously defined holiness, but I do wonder if we spend more time on the things we can judge, rather than a call to mercy, compassion and love. If I recall correctly, Jesus knew a group that spent more time on outward appearances…and they had him crucified.
It started as a small cough and developed into acute bronchitis. Brock has never been prone to illness beyond the occasional cold, except when he was little. Although as an infant he did keep us busy with ear infections. At the doctor, when being diagnosed and treated for this bout of bronchitis, Brock also had an ear infection. His first since day care days.
Why am I writing about his health? The doctor asked this great question in her office, “Brock are you stressed out? You seem really tired, like, beyond the sickness.” A deep exhale from him confirmed that.
I have always had a romanticized view of Senior year and all the excitement that came with it. In fact, I bought into the story about how Junior year is the hardest and most pressure packed. A few tasks from Senior year might indicate otherwise:
- College applications
- Senior year classes
- Extra curriculuar activities
- Scholarship applications
- Financial aid conversations
- Decisions about where to attend college…all making for a stressful Fall in our home.
We should probably include “freaked out, but trying to act like we are holding it together” parents. Don’t judge. A few thoughts for youth ministers about Seniors.
- Many students are overwhelmed and don’t know how to handle it. You don’t have to fix this for them. Just let them know that you are in their corner and praying for them.
- Give them opportunities for places to just be, not where there is something expected of them.
- Share prayer practices that help them find peace and readjustment because of whose they are.
- Please don’t make them feel guilty when they miss a program or event. Do let them know they were missed.
- Remind them that the celebration is coming!