Today’s College Students Lack Empathy

Posted on: 05/29/10 8:32 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Interesting little piece by Yahoo News yesterday, with some research to back up something I’ve definitely noticed. College students today are less likely to ‘get’ the emotions of others than their parents were.

This new study from Michigan’s Institute for Social Research reviewed 72 studies of 14,000 American college students and found a huge empathy drop after the year 2,000.

“Generation Me” is earning their name.

The article proposes all kind of theories as to why, including increased exposure to media, social media, and today’s hypercompetitive focus on success. But another theory is simply how busy people are and the fact that they don’t have time to sit down and just listen to others. A graduate student interviewed in the article suggested, “College students today may be so busy worrying about themselves and their own issues that they don’t have time to spend empathizing with others…”

Interesting stuff.

My two cents: Get our kids involved in mission work. The more we expose our kids to the compassion of Christ and put them in situation where they can serve the needs of others, even just listening… the more our kids get out of their little “me” bubble.

Talk with any kid after a mission trip (even local trips feeding the homeless) and you’ll see a slightly different worldview.

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What Connecting Looks Like

Posted on: 05/27/10 9:39 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Jason’s adult leaders didn’t realize how “stagnant” many of their kids were… until they saw it on a giant whiteboard right in front of their face!

It’s fun to get emails from youth workers and adult mentors who are connecting with kids. I’ve been getting a lot of these lately– people who have read my book, CONNECT, or have seen our free CONNECT video, and are using the principles to not only start conversations with teenagers, but using the principles out of chapter 14 to do the sticky notes exercise, taking a spiritual inventory of their group.

Jason, a youth worker from New York just took his entire adult leadership team through the sticky notes exercise using a giant whiteboard. Here’s his results (I blurred the names for anonymity). Notice the “trends” of where the names landed.

Does that look like your group? (I’ve done a lot of these trainings- and a TON of them look just like this!)

A lot of stagnant kids, huh? Jason noticed this and sees how connecting might really make a difference. Here’s what Jason wrote me this morning:

I should’ve emailed you sooner to let you know how much that book has meant to this ministry so far. I did the sticky note exercise last month and it has really shook up the leader’s view of their roles. I have a great group of adults that really love serving the teens, but I do not think they totally understood what kind of an impact they have, or could have, until they saw that board. I attached the picture of it for you to see. As you will see, we have a pretty stagnant group. The leaders have responded in force to change that! They realize now more than ever how important it is to be creating one on one relationships that will give them the ability to help a teen take that next step towards Christ and a more devoted relationship with Him.

I also changed our team expectations. I have now added that they need to be having a one on one with a teen at least once a month. For the ones that still didn’t get it I broke it down like this: We have 14 leaders and 50 teens attending regularly on Sunday nights. If each leader took a different teen out once a month that equals 168 teens a year. This means each teen will be able to have a one on one conversation with an adult 3 times a year! So if we look at it like that it also impacts us to realize that even twice a month isn’t a stretch. That doubles the amount of one on ones and infinitely multiplies the amount of influence an adult can have on a teen!

Thanks again for all you do for youth ministries!


It’s fun to see how Jason is making sure that no kid is missed! Wouldn’t you love it if you knew that your own son or daughter had a place where they were loved and cared for… a place where everyone knew their name, and where a positive adult role model actually hung out with them and mentored them?!

Thanks for CONNECTING Jason!

My Dear Blog Fans

Posted on: 05/26/10 2:19 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I wanted to apologize to you for my blog lately. I won’t bore you with the details, I’ll just tell you that it’s Google’s fault! (seriously, it is!)

All you know is that you haven’t heard from me in a while. But I have been blogging… they just weren’t sent out. The quick explanation is that my blog feed is sent by Google (who took over Feedburner) and they made some switch sometime after the blog about my son, and then you guys experienced silence until this morning (Wednesday).

My faithful web guy Troy went in last night and retweaked it and we THINK that it is working now.

If you’re inbox is like mine, you received the last THREE blogs this morning (Wed). (And now you know all the dark secrets about me and Lori! Those who read the last of those three blogs know what I’m talking about. We had a great time by the way. Good wings!) So hopefully this blog I’m writing now will send out to my email subscribers Thurs.

Anyway… if that works, we’re over the hump and I’ll try to continue to send you good youth culture highlights, media insight, parenting tips, youth worker helps, and just plain fun stuff!

Hey… here’s an idea (speaking of fun stuff). First five people to reply (just hit reply- it goes to me) to my EMAIL FEED of this blog (which should send out the same time as my feed Wed morning), I’ll send them a copy of my most recent book CONNECT (actually… any one of my books in print. Name it.). In other words… when this blog sends out Thursday morning, I’m rewarding the first 5 people that reply to this blog in their email’s inbox (hoping that it indeed works again!)

How’s that for a test!  🙂  (a test to see who’s still reading at this point in this very boring blog!)  🙂

I’ll post the winner in the comments.

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20 Years Ago Today

Posted on: 05/25/10 3:19 PM | by Jonathan McKee

20 years ago today I asked my wife out on our first date.

I met Lori at our church college group in December 1989 for about 5 minutes. Then I went back to school in Santa Barbara (Westmont College). When I came back for spring break I noticed her again– really cute! But she was dating my friend Steve! (Dang it!) When I came back in May I saw her again and was REALLY bummed that she was with Steve. So on May 25, 1990, when I found out that she had broken up with Steve… did I wait even one day to respect Steve?

Nope! I asked her out.

Lori said “yes.”   🙂

Here’s where it get really funny. A bunch of our friends from our church’s college group were going “dancing” that night to this little “dive” by CSUS (California State University Sacramento). This place was a gay bar on some nights, and then bands would come out other nights and draw huge crowds.

Yes… I’m coming to you on the record. My first date with my wife was at a gay bar. (That would have been a good statement for the game “Two Truths and a Lie)

So tonight, I’m surprising her and taking her to that same place, now a sports bar. We’re going to grab an appetizer real quick for sentimental sake… then I’m going to take her to a REAL dinner!

February will be our 20 year wedding anniversary.

20 years later and she’s still HOT!

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Unpaid- Proof That You Care

Posted on: 05/21/10 10:55 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I found this little tidbit fascinating– “Unpaid Workers Must Care More.”

My dad, Tom McKee, over at, brought this article to my attention. It’s from Energize’s volunteerism guru Susan Ellis in her article “You Get What You Pay For.”

I was fascinated by a story she shared in point #3, “Unpaid Workers Must Care More.” She writes:

Many years ago, before my career in volunteerism, I worked for a time as a social worker trainee in the family and child division of Philadelphia’s human services department. One day I was handed a case of a 15-year-old who had run away.  When I went to see her in the temporary shelter, she was very hostile and wouldn’t look at or speak to me. Finally, in desperation, I asked, “What would it take for you to talk with me?” She smiled slyly, crossed her arms on her chest, and said, “show me I’m not just another case to you and come back after 5:00 PM.” So I did, and it totally broke down the wall between us.

This powerful incident taught me a number of things. First, some recipients of service distrust paid workers as only being helpful because it’s their job to be so.  Second, the appearance of caring could be conveyed by doing something during unpaid time.


I think this speaks loudly to the potential power and influence of our volunteers.

New Narnia Film

Posted on: 05/20/10 2:08 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… I’ve always been a huge fan of the Narnia books… so the films have always peeked my interest.

Next one is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, directed by none other than Micheal Apted (Amazing Grace). No offense to the past director… but I’m glad to see they’re bringing in a real Hollywood hitter for this one!

The “teaser” poster just released for this Christmas’ most anticipated film. Check it out:

Gotta love Aslan!!! (and check out Reepicheep)

Alec’s Birthday List

Posted on: 05/18/10 3:33 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… so my son turned 17-years-old yesterday. We went out as a family and saw Ironman II (great film) and ate at one of his favorite places (Island Burgers)… had a great time.

Last week he gave us his birthday list. My wife and I were rolling when we got it… it’s just so “Alec.”

I had to share it with you. I edited the name out of the last item on his list to keep confidentiality:

Alec’s Birthday List
·         Superpowers- I want to be able to secrete pizza from my pores so that I can have it whenever I want
·         Any Owl City album
·         A Woman –preferably blue, 10 feet tall, and with a tail…
·         Nerdy t-shirts –im dead serious about this, anything to do with superhero’s, video games, movies, or anything nerdy [like Marvel, DC comics, star wars, “Avatar”, *hint*hint*
·         A Flamethrower
·         Lord of the Rings weaponry- e.g. staff of Gandalf the grey/white, sword of Aragorn, bow of legolas, axe of gimli, take your pick
·         Anything manly
·         Star Wars lightsabers- (one of the good ones, not like a kids plastic toy like they should be at least $40 if they are legit) first pick would definitely be Obi-wan’s lightsaber(blue), second choice would be the lightsaber of Yoda(green), and finally third pick would be count dooku’s saber(red)
·         A Snack Trolley -A zipline from the fridge to my room that operates at the touch of a button to deliver delicious snacks to my eager hands quickly and efficiently. This will cut walking time in half and reduce unnecessary effort used when rummaging through the fridge
·         Irish Goodness -Anything Irish is usually already awesome but if you could find anything that’s both Irish and awesome, then that’s…well…awesome (for example, a shelalie is both Irish and awesome, witty Irish jokes are both Irish and awesome, and coffee mugs with witty Irish jokes on them are amazing)
·         Nerdy Goodness –you can use your imagination on this one but if you need help I’ll just start going on a roll and you will get the rhythm… awesome movie posters, life-size figurines of iron-man/storm-troopers, replicas of the handheld Star-trek phasers, blue-ray movies, etc.
·         Foody Goodness –You guys know what I like; Pizza, sandwiches, Pizza, hamburgers, Pizza, bacon, Pizza, donuts, Pizza, chicken, A BEAUTIFUL WOOMUN FEEDING ME PIZZA!!!
·         A Zombie Attack Survival kit
·         Nifty gadgets –Anything that is sneaky, kicks face, and is useful, all at the same time
·         The Key to (a certain Girl’s) Heart –Yes, I greatly desire this more than all the others. But alas, for as a wise person (Sam Worthington, Avatar) once said, “I may have already chosen this woman, but this woman must also choose me.”

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Who Wants to Be Skanky?

Posted on: 05/16/10 9:20 PM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s like a new game show. “Who Wants to the Be the Most Skanky!” And the winner… Christina Aguilera, by a landslide with her new #1 video, Not Myself Tonight.

The competition for trampiness has been tight lately.

And that’s just in the last week. How do you top that?

Well… leave it to Christina; and I guess her plan worked, because this weekend her insanely sexualized Not Myself Tonight video hit the #1 spot for downloaded videos on iTunes.

Sex sells…. indeed.

Here’s a glimpse of the lyrics of this song:

I’m dancing a lot and I’m taking shots
and I’m feeling fine I’m kissing all the boys and the girls
Someone call the doctor cause I lost my mind…

Cause I’m doing things that I normally won’t do
The old me is gone, I feel brand new
And if you don’t like it, f*** you

(how interesting that she quoted II Corinthians 5:17)   🙂

I thought about showing you a screenshot from the video… but in all honesty, it was hard to find one that I felt like I could even post. If she’s not half naked, then she’s licking the tongue of another girl or being groped by her male dancers. This shot is about the cleanest glimpse I can give you.

Isn’t it comforting to see that our kids can just click the “preview” button and see all this?

Billy Ray says, “It’s what people her age do.”

Posted on: 05/14/10 11:28 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Hey parents… don’t worry if your 16-year-old girls are literally “grinding” with men on the dance floor, “It’s what people her age do.”

Whew! That’s a relief. And I thought I should be worried! It’s so nice to know that this is just normal.

With Miley, the news just gets worse and worse. May 12th, TMZ posted this video footage of Miley grinding on the dance floor last summer with the director of her most recent film, The Last Song. Wow! And I thought her new music video was bad! Miley never ceases to shock me.

Sadly, if you’ve ever been to a school dance, you see this all the time. But it’s still hard to watch the camera close up on Miley’s posterior as her director literally grinds his crotch against her. When you watch it, you can’t help but ask, Is this really what parents think they should just let “people her age do?”

This week my Youth Culture Window article focuses on many of Miley’s recent decisions, especially her brand new racy music video. This new “grinding” video just confirms what was said in that article. But the sad fact is her father’s response to this video of her grinding. “It’s what people her age do.”

The timing of Billy’s statement is hilarious. I’m in the airport right now heading to NJ to teach a parenting workshop to help parents raise their kids with Biblical values in this highly sexualized culture. I’m going to assure them, “You’re the parent. You don’t have to sell out to this!” You bet we’ll be talking about this incident.


Lori and Ashley in an Accident

Posted on: 05/13/10 12:36 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Today everything came to a screeching halt for me in my office at 2:42 p.m. My wife called from her cell phone in tears—she and my youngest daughter Ashley had been in a bad car accident.
If you’ve been in these situations, you might have noticed that time freezes. Seconds before the phone rang, I had been at full speed finalizing my workshop presentations for this weekend in NJ … none of that mattered now. I just sat there, frozen in time, staring at the texture on the wall, feeling as if my throat was closing up on me.
I blinked in slow motion. It felt like a minute, waiting to find out if she and Ashley were okay, but it probably was only a nanosecond during that pause in my wife’s sentence.
Even though time was frozen, my thoughts were running at 30-images-per-second. I saw it clearly in my mind—a gurney being loaded into an ambulance with my daughter’s 12-year-old body strapped tightly. An EMT in a blue uniform holding an oxygen mask to her tiny face, trying to keep his balance as he stepped into the ambulance with the gurney.
Fast forward to the hospital waiting room… a group of faces surrounding me, some patting me on the shoulder trying to assure me of some hope, others saying words of encouragement, but I don’t hear a thing. My thoughts are in an operating room right now with Ashley’s petite frame laid out on a table, doctors franticly working, trying to save her life.
I hit my knees right there in the waiting room and cry out to God, “Please don’t take her. Please!”
I’m not thinking about a totaled car. I’m not worried about increased insurance rates. I could care less if I lost it all at this point. Just not Ashley. “Lord, don’t take Ashley. Nothing else matters.”
I blink again.
I’m back in the office, staring at the textured wall. My wife catches her breath and finishes her sentence. “We’re fine. But the car is totaled.”
I get all the details, but I don’t care about any of them. Lori and Ashley are safe.
It was heavy traffic on a main road by my house. Lori was trying to get through two lanes of stopped traffic to a shopping center. Two cars left a gap and waved her through, not knowing that a young kid was coming full speed in the far right turn lane. Lori poked her nose out to look and it was too late—that teeth grinding sound of metal crunching and glass breaking. Our little Sentra was totaled, with Lori and Ash right there in the front seats.
It was Lori’s first accident, ever.
An hour later Lori was crying, “I’m sorry. I can’t believe I totaled the car.”
I looked at her and smiled. “I am not worried about it at all. You two are safe.”
God answered my hospital room prayer… and I was never even there.
The funny thing is, last week I prayed that very prayer. I was praying and I asked God, “Please keep my family safe.” I went on. “I don’t care about this recession, my salary, home values, bills… none of it. Just keep my family safe.”
He answered it.
So I’m keeping my end of the bargain. I don’t care about the car, the deductable, insurance increases, body shop bills… none of it.
The girls are okay. That’s all that matters.
God is good.
(You can keep Ash in your prayers. Lori seemed to fair fine, but Ash’s head actually hit the side window or something. She’s got the beginning of a black eye and a little bit of headache. A fire truck actually did show up at the accident and they checked her out—said she was fine. She was in good spirits a couple hours later. The black eye makes her look tough. I told her to tell everyone at school that she got in a gang fight!)

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