Are You Thriving or Surviving? 7 Tips For Becoming A Better Youth Worker
Let's face it: Some days in youth ministry work can be overwhelming. We can feel underequipped, undervalued, and undereducated. (Not to mention underpaid.) Maybe it was one of these feelings that drove you to scour the Internet today, hoping to find something that would solve some of your youth ministry problems, or at least today's woes. We realize that much of what we have learned in our past hasn't equipped us to do what we are called to do.
In light of this, it's so important for youth workers to keep improving. Here are a few tips we can follow to make sure we are always growing and developing:
Pray, pray, pray
Take the day off. Go to the woods, or the lake, or your favorite park. Ask what it is God wants you to be doing to reach into the lives of young people. Believe me, it's on His heart more than it is on yours.
Ask a ton of questions
Many of us think we're experts on youth because we were once young ourselves. However, if we want to be professional youth workers there is no way that our experiences qualifies us as experts. Ask young people about their experiences rather than talking about your own.
Change your vocabulary
If you've grown up in a "church bubble" the odds are the average teen will not know what you're talking about when you speak to them. I'm not talking about trying to speak the lingo of your students, but merely getting to an even playing field. Consider this: if you have to explain what a youth pastor is then maybe it isn't the best way to introduce yourself. Of course it doesn't change your calling or your job description; it's about helping others understand what it is you're there for.
Get out of your office
Get out of your comfort zone and go to a place you know students hang out. Try the places where you won't know any of them. Pick those kids that you think would have no idea what a youth pastor is and try to talk with them. If you have nothing to talk about, it's a sure sign you need to be there more often.
Recruit a teammate
If you're trying to do youth work on your own, you could maximize your effectiveness by joining up with someone that is just as passionate, but has a completely different personality type. You'll learn from each other working shoulder to shoulder.
Stop trying to get youth involved in what you do, and start getting involved in what they do. Do they go to drop-in basketball afterschool? Then why don't you? If you have the word "youth" in your job description, doesn't that mean you should be working with them more than with a keyboard? Just saying.
I have been in some sort of youth work role for the past 14 years. I know how easy it is to get comfortable in what we're doing. But trust me there is always something we could be doing better. The goal for us all should be to thrive rather than merely survive.