Everyday Heroes: Spotlight on Author Elizabeth Seckman and Interview with Local Youth Pastor
To inspire hope and courage, I dedicate Monday posts through the months of March and April to authors and professionals on the subject of heroes, historically defined, and also the transformation in today’s society. I like to think of this term as the Everyday Hero. Here today, I have fellow author Elizabeth Seckman with her hero definition and spotlight on her story “Mind Body Soul.” Also today, Pastor H., talks about the purpose and impact of a local Youth Group in The United Methodist Church.
[Erika] What is your definition of a hero (historically or in today’s world), how does your hero fit the definition and then finally, why did he or she fall?
[Elizabeth Seckman] A hero is someone who sets aside personal interests to benefit the lives of others.
The heroes in my story, the king and queen, set aside love to marry and save their kingdoms. Once there is peace in the realms, the king decides to set things right and reunite the queen with her first love. This act of selflessness on the part of the king is a magical moment— where sorcery and affairs of the heart collide to bring about the king’s downfall.
The Story: “Mind Body Soul”
For the sake of her people, his queen sacrificed love for duty when she married the stern king of the highlands over the jovial intended of her youth. Their marriage brought peace and unity to the people for so long that the resulting complacency gave the idle king time to ponder—would his devoted queen be happier with her first love? Didn’t a woman whose life was spent in sacrifice deserve true love? In an attempt to do right by his loyal wife, the king consorts with a sorcerer and dabbles in dark magic.
The result is chaos and the possible destruction of himself, his queen, and their kingdom.
About Author Elizabeth Seckman
Elizabeth is a wife, a mom, and a writer. She has four wonderful boys, one dusty house, and six published books to her credit. Feel free to check them out HERE! Erm, the books, not the kids or the house…though all things in life are negotiable 😉
Everyday Hero Pastor H. and Building Trust in a Local Youth Group
As a teen myself years and years ago, I remember feeling alone and uncertain about where I could fit in and be me, who could I trust at times, and how would I one day find my place in the bigger world on my own. Teens today have more issues and social expectations than I did back in the late 90’s. Throw in academics, economic struggles, and social media into the mix, and I scratch my head. I’m not sure how I would survive as a teen in today’s world. So today, my feature Everyday Hero is a local Youth Pastor from a local church I attend. I’ll call him Pastor H.
[Erika] Tell me a bit about Youth Group.
[Pastor H] Let me first begin with the facts. For an individual graduating high school we see 80% leave the church and never come back. Examples might be due to lack of programming or lack of community connection. Teens don’t feel accepted. The other 15% who do stick around occurs when we find ways to keep them and bring them into the life of the church. It’s a long-term viewpoint. What I do won’t be harvested until 5 to 10 years down the road. We don’t want to just get them into the church. We want a long-term approach to ministry and to get them invested. They bring friends. They talk in schools and in public about the program. In a business sense we are sharing with our community and what we’re sharing is the gospel message of the Christian faith for youth to become disciples of Jesus Christ. It’s helping create the experience of faith and love and connection. Youth group is for those teens in grades 6th-12th grades. The group engages in fellowship, games, and often food on a traditional Wednesday night. They dive into God’s word and seek to discover how we are to apply the teachings of Scripture into our life.
[Erika] What is the impact on students involved?
[Pastor H] Students recently assessed who we are and came up with the definition: We are Impact Youth Ministry. We impact community, neighbors and the larger world. Every year we take mission trips at the state and national level. We take more short-term missions these days too. In the end, missions show students and teach them we can change people around us and influence our community. We’ve had groups at harvesters, a food pantry organization in the community that feeds those families who need extra support. We worked with Uplift, an organization that supports the homeless and deliver those basic human needs, care and compassion that are not usually received from other organizations. The Youth Group was also recently in charge of worship service. The benefit was two-fold: students aren’t viewed as a babysitting service, but they are seen and heard where others in the church may not know what the youth group is up to. Church members commented, “They loved the realness and the honesty.” The service served as a portal to see into the lives of these youth students. People believe in what we are doing, who we are, and our systems and our methods.
[Erika] What example have you seen of student change from involvement with the Youth Group?
[Pastor H] One fairly new student has been coming for about 7 months. He didn’t have church in his background and his family was borderline abusive with lots of difficult and questionable activities in the house. Others in the community who know him have watched him change. He’s grown. There’s a moment when you can see the recognition click for them. When they experience this moment it’s not about what can I get out this program or day, but what can I give back. They step up and say, “hey, how can I help?” And the question is more than a spiritual sense. These students feel cared for and accepted in the group and they can finally be themselves. Teens today have more on their plates than we can ever imagine. Even in a decade in the 10 years since I have been a teen, the social and cultural issues they deal with is so different. We have some LGBT students in the group, and honestly, some people would shut them out, even some churches. To hear someone say to them, I’ve got you, and we’ll figure out how we do life together is what they need. Working with teens, you have to build trust. It takes a long time to do that. Without trust, I can’t do my job. It’s a long-term thing that exceeds programming.
[Erika] What is a favorite moment?
[Pastor H] Seeing students bring in other people and be a part of mission trips. Recently, we had a big progressive dinner. We started the evening with one student’s house hosting the group and serving appetizers. We moved to the next house for one course, then another for dessert and we ended the night roller-skating. We had over 30 students attend the event. As I walked away, I overheard a new visitor say to a student, “we didn’t know that your youth pastor was so cool.” That was huge. It meant the doorway to their mind is now open and I connected with that person. They felt a part of the group. They also felt like I was someone they can talk to or relate to.
[Erika] Do you have an everyday hero?
[Pastor H] I have a couple of academic mentors. It’s not what they taught me but the manner in which they taught me to allow me to think for myself. They are still actively involved in what they do in their careers, and they are passionate in what they do. They realize they are training the next generation. That’s why I love what I do. I won’t be around forever. I am preparing those mind and hearts for long after I am gone.
[Erika] What inspired you to seek a career in ministry?
[Pastor H] As a kid I wanted to do something math or science related. I grew up with a computer in the house. I knew the systems and how to operate them and started to explore the sciences more. I took college level courses in high school. I really enjoyed learning how things work and function. My curiosity taught me how to be a big picture thinker. I wondered if there something more out there? That’s how I started to explore ministries as a calling or felt called to do.
Thank you so much for being here with me today Elizabeth Seckman and Youth Pastor H. Have a lovely rest of your day everyone. 🙂