Monday, April 4, 2011

Success in Youth Work Means Ignoring Your Own Problems

Success in Youth Work Part 4

I have been a youth worker for a long time and through many different phases of life. At each new phase it becomes necessary to stop, catch my breath and reevaluate why and how.

The situation:
I had moved out on my own, was working three jobs, commuting to college full time and holding down an internship as a youth worker at a local church. At the same time my soul searching came to a climax as God really started to isolate some of the areas of my life that needed to be changed. I was an emotional train wreck waiting to happen. I thought that if I ignored my problems and simply tried to help other people through their issues, that God would honor that and fix me through my service hours. I would define my actual youth work as one of my most “successful” of my career. The group was growing in attendance and in spiritual depth.

Why I was doing it?
I can isolate the why to a single moment. I was standing on the stage of the church as a couple young guys came up to talk about their experience at a camp that we attended the previous weekend. I expected them to talk about the cool stuff that they had at the camp, but instead they talked about me and how I had shown them love and moved their hearts toward God. I was moved to tears. (which wasn’t rare for an emotional basket case).

How I would do it?
I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact I would push myself harder. Until – I train wrecked.

Looking back on this experience I realized that success couldn’t be achieved simply in being busy. You can help others for awhile, but when you crash you can easily take other people down with you. You need to invest in nurturing your own relationship with God, not merely prepping your bible studies. You need to invest in your family. When everything else falls apart you need to have some people to fall back on. You need to invest in yourself, your interests, your hobbies. You need to define yourself apart from your role as a youth worker.
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