Presence Life Planning Curriculum
Dr. Agnes Ip, PhD, LMFT
In our many years of family ministry, Presence realizes that the excessive and vicious “competition” in our society has become people’s biggest enemy nowadays. Such competition destroys the harmonious relationships among people and distorts the purpose of education, life and work. Competition even affects how people define the meaning of life. As Matthew 16:26 puts it, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” As a lot of parents and teachers blindly pursue the questionable, distorted values of our society, our next generation will pay a hefty price for it. In recent years, student suicide rates in Hong Kong have been on the rise. As a result, some Hong Kong parents will send their children to study in the United States under the false impression that there is less pressure studying here. However, student suicides among prestigious schools in the United States are not uncommon. The following is a true, heartbreaking story:
A Chinese student who attended a prestigious school in Northern California once told his parents that, in his school, exams were valued higher than lives. One day, his classmate was hit by a car while riding his bike to school. The bike was totaled. Instead of going to the doctor, he went to school covered in blood because he did not want to miss the first-period exam for fear that his college application might be compromised. As he was limping into the classroom with his bloodstained body, the teacher did not send him to seek medical care but questioned him, “Why are you late for the exam?”
As many parents and teachers overemphasize competitiveness and the pursuit of the ideal lifestyle of our society, they neglect to teach children the importance of enjoying and managing their own life. They turn education, which is good in itself, into a psychological burden for the children. We believe that not all parents agree with the distorted value system of our society. During our consultations, we encountered parents who encouraged their children to study and live according to their abilities and the talents God bestowed on them. However, children easily get lost when they begin to identify with the world’s values. In order to enhance their competitiveness, they push themselves to their limits in studying and participating in all kinds of activities. Seeing this, we ask ourselves how we can help parents become better coaches to their children throughout life’s journey.
In response, Presence developed the Presence Life Planning Curriculum to help participants learn to set life goals and career directions. Presence’s curriculum focuses on the development and growth of the whole person, emphasizing life priorities, emotional health, and the importance of relationships. This curriculum can be used for both trainees or trainers. The trainee curriculum can be taught to two separate groups – high school students and adults. The curriculum for trainers has a dual purpose – to help adults in their personal growth and to equip them in becoming life coaches to their children and students. Presence’s curriculum uses interactive games and activities, explores real life cases, and offers biblical principles for the following topics to help individuals discover their personal and social identities and reshape their views on the meaning of life so that they may live a vibrant life with purpose.
Presence Life Planning Curriculum Course Descriptions
- Defining Your Core Values: Setting Life Priorities
The time between high school and college is a critical stage that is full of choices. Therefore, it is particularly important to teach youth the right set of values in order to guide them through critical decisions in their lives. If life is like a train, then your view of life and your value system are like the track on which your life runs. Setting a train on the right track to reach your intended destination is the basis for life decisions. No matter how fast a train runs, even if it outruns other trains, life is still a mess if the train does not run on the right track. This lesson will help you discover the importance of having the right value system and shows you how to set your priorities.
- Managing Your Life: Pursuing Physical and Emotional Health
In this age of rapid informational and technological development, young people can easily gain academic and relevant knowledge. However, life management skills, such as self-care and interpersonal relationships, may pale in comparison. Without a competent level of self-care and a balanced lifestyle, our youth are facing challenges in dealing with emotions. Many onsets of mental health issues are triggered by prolonged lack of sleep, exercise and mindful solitude. This segment guides you to pursue physical and emotional health, so that you can enjoy living a balanced and vibrant life.
- Cherishing Your Relationships: Investing in Intimate Relationships
Humans are relational beings. Important intimate relationships in life are foundational in establishing security and a healthy sense of self. Our relationship with God directly affects the quality of our interpersonal relationships. This lesson teaches you the art of give-and-take, how to nourish important relationships to enhance intimacy, and the wisdom of letting go when relationships end.
- Embracing Your Life: Discovering Your Uniqueness, Life Goals, and Dreams
You can only live a fruitful and happy life when you are passionate about life and have a set of clear life goals. Through assessing different learning styles, multiple intelligences, character traits, talents and spiritual gifts, this lesson helps you find your uniqueness. Armed with such knowledge, you can set your own life goals. This lesson also encourages you to realize your dreams by broadening your horizon, understanding society and the world on a deeper level, and actively serving others.
- Rising above Limitations: Accepting and Overcoming Challenges in Life
Living in comparison with others often results in pain and despair. This segment guides you to understand your own limitations and those of your family, society and culture. You will learn to accept who you are, your disadvantages, and your limits. You also learn to appreciate your ability to rise above challenges to achieve an unwavering and grateful attitude in life.
- Reevaluating Success and Failure: Examining Societal Standards
Our endless pursuit of success is the main source of our pressures. However, success in reality is often defined by those around us. In this lesson, we will be taking a fresh look and evaluating our standards and examining their validity. We will aim to relieve ourselves from the bondage of societal pressures and develop an understanding of the importance of connecting to a community with healthy standards.
- Resisting Temptations: Handling Stress with a Healthy Attitude in Order to Resist Temptations and Addictions
When facing external pressures, many often lack coping skills and end up finding excuses or outlets in the wrong direction. Some seek relief through compulsive buying or from online games. Some resort to pornography, drugs, and other addictive indulgences. This lesson helps you establish a healthy value system, develop skills to cope with pressures, and resist lust and temptations. We also introduce therapeutic plans for addictions.
- Living a Moral Life: Rejecting Personal Gains Achieved through Unethical Practices
In a highly competitive society, many are choosing to abandon their moral standard and chasing after their goals at the expense of personal integrity, reputation, trust, and friendship. This lesson points out the need and the knowhow of establishing a crystal clear ethical standard, a set of life priorities, an attitude of fighting for justice and rejecting selfish gains through unrighteous or unlawful paths.
The Presence Life Planning Curriculum is still a work in progress. In order to raise awareness of life planning and to facilitate the fine-tuning of this curriculum to better serve participants, we seek to work with churches. If your church is interested, please feel free to contact Presence’s office. This past July, we held a couple of preview sessions in Hong Kong, and they were very well received. By God’s grace and guidance, we will continue to work diligently, and we hope to launch this curriculum soon. We look forward to walking alongside our next generation in setting life goals. If you share our vision, please pray for us. Any financial support would be greatly appreciated. We value your partnership with us in this endeavor.
Agnes Ip, PhD, LMFT
Founder and CEO of Presence
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology
Past Words from President