Written by: Brianne Botzum
As an Institute student, one of my greatest motivations is knowing that what I am learning is going to benefit others. This summer I saw all of my late night studying pay off while participating as a near-peer with Workwell. Workwell is a program for 14 and 15 year old youth to have their first job experience. I worked with youth to develop their interpersonal and occupational skills as junior counselors at Camp Skillz. Each day I went into work looking for ways in which I could encourage and teach them. Over the past school year, I’ve been learning about how Jesus listened and taught all of those he encountered. In the same way, I strove wanted to be open to how the Lord could use me to see and respond to the needs of the youth in my care.
One of the biggest breakthrough moments was during a conversation I had with my team following the facilitation of a camp activity that they had planned by themselves. They had some bumps along the way, as would anyone doing something for the first time. A few managers came by to check on the session and offer suggestions. At the first mention of critique, I saw that they began to shut down. They felt so defeated by the fact that they had made any mistakes. I recognized they needed to learn about constructive criticism.
The next day, I brought my team into a classroom and asked them what they thought about constructive criticism. Many of them shared their tendencies to get defensive and shut down when they were critiqued. I shared with them a proverb that I had been encouraged to memorize: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses," (27:6).
The youth pondered this for a moment, trying to figure out what it meant. We discussed how people who truly care are going to be honest with you so that you can grow. We all laughed at the example of a good friend telling you that your outfit looks bad or that you have food in your teeth. That example quickly translated into how we would also want people to help us when there are areas of our work that we could improve in. The youth were able to see the care that each of their managers had for them as they gave critique only to help them improve.
They realized they didn't have to be afraid of failure, but instead they learned how to respond to constructive criticism with humility. Seeing my youth articulate why it was necessary and even beneficial was a real win for me.
I can say that it was because of my education at the Institute for G.O.D., I felt prepared for my work with youth this summer. I felt equipped to respond to the situations that arose according to my knowledge of God’s Word. I couldn’t have done this summer well without my teachers’ and TAs’ investment in me. The biblical passages I was taught during the school year weren’t confined to my classroom experience, they came alive this summer as I ministered to youth! What a blessing!