Who wouldn't love to learn from this gentle teacher? Kids spend a lot of time wondering about how to be a good friend, how to communicate effectively, and what it means to be successful in life. Truth is, even a lot of adults wonder these things. What if you could learn all this from a dog? Well, you can. Discover why the world's canine guru has so many fans around the world.
When I wrote Watson's Way, I saw it as devotional book, particularly suited to parents with grade-school kids. With the pace of life getting in the way of spending time with our kids, having stories to read and share together is a gift. That's what Watson's Way can be for you. Whether your kids are tucked into bed or sitting in your lap doesn't matter. What does matter is reading a short story about Watson's funny habits and then talking through the journaling questions at the end of each chapter. As a parent, you'll learn a lot about your kid's thoughts, fears and dreams. And your kids will fall in love with a gentle teacher. #dogs #love #quiettimewiththekids
There's a long Greek word used to describe humans who "humanize" animals. I think people who like to aim that Greek word at other people, like it's a bad thing, simply don't understand animals (or people, for that matter). They especially don't understand dogs. They've never had a dog. They've missed out on all that can be learned from a dog. They've not been loved by a dog. And that is a terrible loss, indeed. From our broken hearts at the sudden loss of our beloved Watson, we wrote this book to show just how much a dog can humanize its persons. And it is a beautiful thing, indeed.
It's only when your dog lives with you--not in a kennel outside, but in your home--that you really get to know their personality. And trust me, every dog has a distinct personality. In the case of Watson, he was the consummate music lover. All the tuneful sounds we provided seemed to bring him auditory delight, from head-banging to classical. Still, it was obvious he had a favorite genre: live guitar music. Could he know that was our favorite genre, too?
Have you seen those memes on Facebook asking if you like the sound of thunder in the distance? Maybe you, like me, take delight in distant storms but not so much when they're directly overhead. In my experience, dogs are not fans of thunder, no matter how far away. But sometimes, a storm warning for a dog comes when another dog appears on their horizon. It sure did for Watson. His response to such impending threats was priceless.
Dogs are like mirrors...furry, wet-nosed mirrors. One of the most amazing things about dogs is that they make us more human by helping us see ourselves differently. "Dog people" tend to see the world with more whimsy and humor. Because that's how dogs see the world.
The human need for personal space is real, of course. But demands for personal space have real limits. There are more than 7 billion people on earth, after all. On the other hand, dogs have no need for personal space. They also could care less about our desire for personal space. Because, well, our space IS their space. #inyourface #bigwethello #dogsteachusabetterway
Although I have the scar to prove I was bitten by a dog at the age of 5, I grew up with dogs. My wife did not. Her parents did not. So for her, dogs were viewed as kind of like lightly domesticated ravenous wolves, emotionally speaking. That's why it was a BIG SURPRISE when she decided the right dog for us weighed about the same as our young daughter. What a brilliant risk to take! Watson dissolved all those years of fear and filled our family with laughter, joy and love. Because that's what dogs really, really, really want to do. And Watson did.
Cat lovers know that their feline housemates don't require much. Generally, they love to be left alone for great swaths of time, with the understanding they should only be "bothered" for food. That is unless there is friction amongst their ranks. Hissing. Chasing. Chaos. Then they need a referee. And the best referee in a cat fight isn't a human. It's a dog.
You know how hard it is to get excited about exercise? You ever reach over, hit the snooze button, and then regret it later? Yes, the struggle is real. That's one of many reasons dogs are called our best friends. Their enthusiasm for exercise (what humans call "play") is contagious, if not downright comical. When I wrote Watson's Way, I wanted to share real moments of our life with this really amazing dog. Lots of those stories are about "play." See what you think, and please consider reading Watson's Way. #dogsrock #turnstruggletoplay
Lots of famous political leaders routinely took naps, including Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Napoleon. But I bet they never had to navigate the dangerous, political minefield of where they took a nap. Or worry about who might horn in right beside them. :-)
Recently, we heard someway say that dogs don't live as long as us. Inwardly, we wondered why they would want to state something so obvious. Soon it became clear that even though they have a dog, they keep it outside and invest very little emotion toward their dog. Which really misses the point of having a dog in the first place. It's also why animal shelters are full of rejected dogs. But here's the thing...becoming a dog's "person" means you willingly commit to investing your heart (not just some food and a little of your time) into your dog. The payoff you'll receive back from your dog is priceless. Trust me, you will become a better human because of your commitment to your dog.
Some scientists believe that humans need 4 hugs a day to survive, and 12 a day to grow. Dogs like Watson love to receive hugs. As many a day as humanly possible. Another reason dogs are wonderful and we're so healthy. ;-)
It's funny how some people think that dogs don't have personalities. Not only do dogs have their own personality, the really smart ones can pretend to be someone else very convincingly. Even a movie villain.
People who say they "don't like dogs" often had a bad experience with one when they were young. One day, when I came home from 1st grade, there was a basset hound in our front yard. I'd never seen it before. But since it was in our front yard, I reasoned, as any child would, that it was only polite to greet it. It growled when I reached down (slightly, since I wasn't a tall 1st grader) to pet it, the dog growled. I pulled back, and it stopped growling. Puzzled, I tried again. And again, the hound growled. Now I was annoyed. This trespassing dog SHOULD allow me to pet it! By golly, I was going to pet it. Despite the immediate growl, I pressed on for the prize of patting the hound on its head...and watched my right hand disappear into eternity. Half an hour later, I was getting a shot in my bum. I'm still a dog guy, even after my amazing power of ignoring.
When we're little the grownups around us teach the importance of sharing. As we get older, we remember the lesson and how important it is (even though we might choose to ignore it sometimes). But did you know that dogs can also have this wisdom?
Are you lucky enough to have a socially awkward friend? Says the wrong things. Laughs too loud. Acts weird...a lot. No? Get a dog. They'll do all that, and more. And you'll love them for it. But it's the other side of this that really counts. You see, when you act weird (and you do, you know), your dog will love you all the same.
In an age full of "smart phones" that seem to make us, well, not so smart, it's easy to get discouraged at how difficult it is to communicate well. Dogs don't have such troubles. Maybe that makes them smarter than us in some ways. There is something to be said for being direct.
It is said that there are 89.7 million pet dogs in the United States. That means a lot of folks have a furry pal under their roof. Maybe more than one. Anything from a tiny lap dog to a massive Mastiff. But do they all speak dog? We learned how to speak dog from our dog, Watson. He can teach you, too.
A youth minister's career is typically less than 5 years. And that's not because they "graduate" to adult ministry. It's because they burn out. Going the distance requires setting specific and unique boundaries. This book gives them to you with humor, real stories, and loads of inspiration.
When I was doing "full-time youth ministry" (I volunteer now), the average length of a youth minister's career was 4 years. Yes, you read that right. But it gets worse. That average 4 years of ministry was conducted in 4 different churches. Yikes! That was an appalling situation and provided the WHY for writing this book. Yet, there's more. Today, the lifespan of a "career youth minister" has actually shrunk to less than 4 years. Unexamined expectations continue to crush the life out this critical minister...and ministry. And the kids lose. But the stakes have never been higher.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote an iconic song about the importance of supportive friends: "Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends." (*earworm*). It's weird how many youth ministers, working so hard to build community with the groups of kids they serve, don't pursue being in a community of their own. Or is it?
Conventional wisdom isn't always all that wise. When it's wrong, though, it tends to be epically wrong. Especially when parents of teens believe that a 20-something youth minister can't know much about the challenges of parenting teens. But maybe that's also an unexamined bit of conventional wisdom.
Youth Ministers serve so many more than the kids. You've got parents, church staff, church leadership, peers, the community... it adds up! And early on, it freaked me out. All the spills! So when I wrote The Ultimate Survival Guide for Youth Ministers, I wanted to bring a life-long map to help navigate all the challenges of ministry. Beginning with accepting the truth that you'll never know everything...and that's OK. See if you relate to this excerpt and please consider reading The Ultimate Survival Guide for Youth Ministers. #youthmin
Kids get programming every day. Too often, the programming is delivered through their smart phone. Other times it is pushed on them by their peers. Where does your youth ministry programming fit in? How do you fit in? The bad news is that you must decide. The good news is that you get to decide.
Since I first wrote this chapter, lots of choirs have been replaced with "worship teams." Which makes the perils of running across the grain of this group of people even more perilous to the youth minister. #worshipteam #outtamyway
For some, youth ministry is a team experience. Maybe you inherited the team from your predecessor or maybe you've nurtured your team. But if you are in a small community or serve a small church, your risk for going solo is high. Unfortunately, engaging in youth ministry can be a very isolated--and isolating--endeavor. And that's not so good.
Of all the "shareholders" a youth minister must keep in mind as they make decisions about, well, just about everything, it is the regular church member that may be the most important. Because there is a strong correlation between their involvement and their expectations. In other words, the less they're involved in the activities of the church's youth ministry, the more outrageous their expectations will be for it.
Are boundaries needed in youth ministry? Yep. There are places where we absolutely need walls, or build them where there are none. Yet, it is also true that we maintain some walls at the expense of those around us, as well as ourselves.
Youth ministers too often treat everyone as if they're "family." In a way that makes sense, since your work is focused on deepening relationships with the kids you work with, their parents, and the community you all live in. But they're not your family. Nope. And it is a peril to not be clear about that.
Youth ministry comes with a LOT of expectations. From the kids. From the parents. From the staff. From the clergy. From the community. But the most debilitating expectations don't come from outside the walls of the church, or even inside the church. They come from inside the head and heart of the youth minister.
Edward de Bono was a wise man. Our expectations can easily become the tail that wags the dog...but without any of the cuteness. Especially when our expectations are unexamined and unchallenged.
Sometimes in the crazy schedule of a typical youth minister, we forget why we're doing what we're doing. And that's never good.
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