Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday's Wisdom: Leading at the Local Level

You've heard it said. . . If you want something done, ask a busy person. Well, Hal and Melanie Young are just some of those people. Called to many things and humbly excelling in them all, the Youngs not only daily serve their 8 children, but also serve homeschoolers on the state and local levels and homeschoolers worldwide through their web site,

In our ongoing series with this popular writing and speaking couple, HGL explores with the Youngs the joys and challenges of leading homeschoolers in a local support group. Sit back, enjoy and learn at their feet!

HGL: Kristen and I each have each served homeschoolers in our area. It is definitely a lot of hard work that will stretch you to your limits at times, but the truth is that there is a lot of joy in the serving, too, isn’t there? What was one of your greatest joys as homeschool group leaders?

Melanie: I’ve got to say that, no doubt, it is having someone come up and tell you at Wal-Mart, years later what a difference you made in their lives. I don’t know if you knew--Hal has Stage 4 cancer, and our twelve month old has a heart condition--and we have just been overwhelmed. Well, someone secretly suggested that folks send us Valentines of Encouragement recently, and wow!

I remember one card in which someone had written, "You encouraged us seven years ago by your workshops and talking with us that we really could homeschool our children, and it’s been such a blessing to us." And when we read that, that was without a doubt, one of the greatest joys of being a leader.

HGL: Homeschoolers can be very diverse and independent, or they may even be brand new to homeschooling and have a lot of understandable needs. What would you say is the biggest secret to finding joy every day in leading all these wonderfully different homeschoolers?

Hal: I think the secret is to see this as a ministry. To realize that in its own way, it’s as important as the ministries in your church or other community service organizations because you’re having an impact on people’s family lives. Homeschooling is not just an educational choice. It’s a lifestyle that people adopt and that impacts everything in their household. If you can help them make that transition and support them in that decision as the years go by, then you are really building into the lives of people around you.

HGL: Conflict creates a challenge when you're leading a homeschool group. How can leaders deal with the challenges of conflict?

Hal: Keep your own sense of perspective. It’s very easy when you’re in a controversy of one sort or another to really feel oppressed--to feel like the whole world is down on you right then. If you step back and are objective, often times it’s only one or two people who are causing all the friction that you’re experiencing at that point. And you can look out across the rest of the group and say, “You know, I’ve got a personal problem right now, but we’re only dealing with one or two people, and the rest of the group is stable. The rest of the group is supportive.” You can be encouraged by that.

HGL: What kind of local group have you lead?

Melanie: We’ve been involved in all different types of groups over the years as we moved around. The group we are in now actually started out as a 4-H Club that grew into a support group. Right now, the group has about 270 members, and it’s pretty full service. We do everything in the world. . . there’s contact football in our area; we have band, art club, history clubs, everything.

And it’s a lot of work. That’s probably something a lot of homeschool leaders struggle with--is making sure there are enough people in leadership so that nobody gets burned out and developing those new leaders. Sometimes younger moms who have younger children have more free time. They’re not all wrapped up with getting their children into college, say. They can take the time to take on some tasks.

I know a young mom in our group started a group called Early Homeschoolers within our group. She eventually moved it within our group, and it’s been a blessing to have that focus on the younger children.

Next week, we will discuss with the Youngs the importance of leading your own children at home as you busily lead other homeschooling families. Become a follower of this blog to catch wisdom in your inbox every Wednesday from experienced and successful homeschool group leaders. It is our pleasure to make this available to you!

Kristen & Denise


JoJo Tabares said...

Great info for homeschool leaders. My prayers are with the Young family!

Kristen and Denise said...

Same here. We are praying for their family, too.

One of the things that made the biggest impression on me was how the Youngs keep such a great attitude and vision in spite of life's obstacles. They see every situation as an opportunity for Christ.