VIDEO A principled principal who’s a powerful example

Laura Hollis spotlights leader of high school with impactful video for his ‘kids’

Sept 5, 2019

The principal of Riley High School in South Bend, Indiana, is a gentleman named Shawn Henderson. Henderson has been Riley’s principal for two years, and his affection for and dedication to the school has endeared him to the students and their families. It is evident in everything he says and does. In addition to his own administrative responsibilities, Henderson attends as many athletic and club events, school competitions and student performances as any given 24-hour day will allow (and his Twitter feed is proof).

Henderson is a physically imposing man, tall and muscular, but has an affable demeanor and a contagious grin. In every conversation with him about Riley, he exhibits that quality that excellent educators strive for: a commitment to high standards fueled by love of the students and belief in their capabilities.

Last week, Henderson released a brief but powerful video on YouTube that offers an even deeper glimpse into the strength of his character.

In one of what he calls his “Fireside Chat Conversation With Mr. Henderson” – this one recorded on a street corner in South Bend – he tells the story of how he almost killed his best friend 25 years earlier, at that very location.

In the video, Henderson explains that hatred, gang violence and even murder were common in his neighborhood, and it affected his view of himself. “I didn’t know what ‘being the best you’ meant. So I wanted to be everything that everyone else was,” he says. Henderson and his friend were standing out on that street corner that August evening in 1994 and saw a guy walk by who they knew carried a weapon. Henderson called out to him, “Hey, man. Let me see your gun.”

The man removed the clip and gave the gun to Henderson, who, thinking that there were no bullets in the gun, jokingly held it to his best friend’s head, more than once.

Henderson relates that they were all laughing and cutting up. “I was going to pull the trigger. Because I thought it was the cool thing to do.”

But he hesitated. “I kept hearing this voice say, ‘Cock it back.’ … When I cocked the gun back and put it up to my friend’s head again, a bullet fell out of it. There was one in the chamber.”

Henderson pauses at this point in the video, and the realization of what almost happened resonates just as strongly in his voice today as it must have when he was a high school freshman. He is blunt when he acknowledges how close he came to destroying a life and a family, all because of teenage bravado and poor choice of role models. “(I was) mimicking things that I’d seen on TV, mimicking things that I’d heard in music videos,” he said.

The story is dramatic, but the lesson, Henderson feels, is a simple one: He did not know what being his best self was. So he closes the video with this admonition for his students: “(M)y words today is to tell you to ‘Be the best you.’ There’s gonna be temptations out there. There’s gonna be obstacles that you’re gonna face. There’s gonna be a lot of challenges and different things that you may not want to do, and you may feel like quitting, but don’t quit.”

I spoke with Henderson a few days after the video was released, and he stated that although he had shared the story with individual students in the past, this was the first time he had made a public statement about it. The timing was right, he says, because students today face even more challenges than he did.

“Sure, we had movies and music videos,” he says. “But students today have the internet, smartphones and social media. They’re exposed to everything, and it’s 24/7.”

That pervasive culture is hard to counter, Henderson says. He also expressed concern that so many of Riley’s students face pressure not to achieve. “They want to fit in, like we all did,” he explains. “But being their best selves is not accepted by some of their peers.”

In that climate, Henderson believes that the best approach is openness and honesty. “The faculty and I want to focus on building relationships,” he says. “I’m open with the students. I don’t lie to them.”

Henderson made the video because he wants his students to understand that he faced many of the same challenges they do – and that he overcame them. So when he tells them, “I believe in your potential,” they believe him.

Shawn Henderson has been surprised by the positive reaction he has received to his video. He shouldn’t be. He may have intended his video for Riley High School students, but his message has a much broader audience. No matter what their circumstances, young people can find themselves teetering on the precipice of decisions that have tragic, permanent consequences.

It takes courage to admit one’s own failings, especially in a leadership position. But the power of example is more persuasive than perhaps any other lesson can be. Shawn Henderson is that kind of exemplary educator.

Original here

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VIDEO 5 Things Pastors Need to Stop Doing Immediately

Shane Idleman
Contributor to ChristianHeadlines.com Sept 10, 2019

5 Things Pastors Need to Stop Doing Immediately

Pastors, we are not just cheerleaders, we are game-changers. We are called to stir and to convict so that change takes place. Granted, there are many wonderful pastors and churches—I appreciate their ministry, but, as a whole, the church has drifted off course. They have lost the compass of truth – many are more concerned about wine tasting and craft beers than truly seeking the heart of God.  

The pulpit regulates the spiritual condition of God’s people which affects the nation. A lukewarm, sex-saturated culture (and church) simply reflects the lack of conviction in the pulpit as well as the pew.

Pastors and Christian leaders alike must take responsibility for the spiritual health of today’s church, and the nation. We don’t need more marketing plans, demographic studies, or giving campaigns; we need men filled with the Spirit of God.

This is not a letter of rebuke (I’m in no position to do that) – it’s a tear-stained plea that we once again seek the heart of God. Here are five issues we need to overcome:

1. Stop watering down the gospel. The truth is often watered-down in the hope of not offending members and building a large audience. Judgment is never mentioned and repentance is rarely sought. We want to build a church rather than break a heart; be politically correct rather than biblically correct; coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict. The power of the gospel is found in the truth about the gospel – the edited version does not change lives.

2. Stop focusing only on encouragement. We all need encouragement, that’s a given, but most people feel beaten down because they’re not hearing more about repentance – “repent and experience times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord” (cf. Acts 3:19). To truly help people, we must preach the difficult truths as well as the joyful ones; preach the cross and the new life; preach hell and preach heaven; preach damnation and preach salvation; preach sin and preach grace; preach wrath and preach love; preach judgment and preach mercy; preach obedience and preach forgiveness; preach that God “is love,” but don’t forget that God is just. It is the love of God that compels us to share all of His truth.

3. Stop getting your message from pop-psychology or the latest fad. All of us must return to the prayer closet where brokenness, humility, and full surrender take place. God prepares the messenger before we prepare the message. Without prayer, “the church becomes a graveyard, not an embattled army. Praise and prayer are stifled; worship is dead. The preacher and the preaching encourage sin, not holiness…preaching which kills is prayerless preaching. Without prayer, the preacher creates death, and not life” (E.M. Bounds). “Without the heartbeat of prayer, the body of Christ will resemble a corpse. The church is dying on her feet because she is not living on her knees” (Al Whittinghill).

4. Stop trying to be like the world. If a pastor fills his mind with the world all week and expects the Spirit of God to speak boldly through him from the pulpit, he will be gravely mistaken. “The sermon cannot rise in its life-giving forces above the man. Dead men give out dead sermons, and dead sermons kill. Everything depends on the spiritual character of the preacher” (E.M. Bounds). Who he is all week is who he will be when he steps to the pulpit. We are called to the separated life guided by the Holy Spirit not Hollywood.

When God brings change, separation and prayer have been the catalyst. The dry, dead lethargic condition of the church simply reflects our lack of being filled with the Spirit. While 5-minute devotionals and prayers are good, they aren’t going to cut it in these dire times. We need powerful times of prayer, devotion, and worship. Again, God prepares the messenger before we prepare the message. It takes broken men to break men. Unplug the tv, turn off Facebook, and get back into the Word, prayer, and worship.

5. Stop asking, “Will this topic offend my audience?” and start asking, “Will my silence offend God?”A paraphrase that is often attributed to Alexis De Tocqueville—a Frenchman who authored Democracy in America in the early 1800s, helps to better understand this point: “I looked throughout America to find where her greatness originated. I looked for it in her harbors and on her shorelines, in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and in her gold mines and vast world commerce, but it was not there…It was not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her success. America is great because she is good, and if America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Is your pulpit aflame with righteousness – it all begins here.

More at www.ShaneIdleman.com.

Watch, I Remember When the Church Prayed

Photo courtesy: Getty Images/4 Maksym

Video courtesy: Shane Idleman

https://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/things-pastors-need-to-stop-doing-immediately.html