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Youth Worker Sound Off: How Do You Help Students WANT To Grow?

Youth Worker Sound Off: How Do You Help Students WANT To Grow?

We haven't done a Youth Worker Sound Off in a while, and I wanted to carve out some space to hear from you today. After all, you're the experts! You're the men and women in the trenches doing youth ministry every day. We think your experience is invaluable and we want to give you a chance to share.

So, take a moment to read this short post and then leave a comment in the field provided at the end of the article.

(If you really want to Sound Off, read other people's comments and engage in dialogue!)

I was eating breakfast last week at Panera with my friend Paul Martin. He had arrived earlier than me (always) and ordered some breakfast. He watched a funny exchange happen in front of him in the line.

The lady in front of him ordered a couple different bagels. The manager asked her if she would like cream cheese, and she replied that she did. But then it got funny. She said, “Oh, and I need you to go ahead and spread the cream cheese on the cinnamon bagel.” Paul said the manager kindly replied, “I’m sorry. That’s not a service we provide,” or something to that effect. Problem mitigated.

Until about 5 seconds later. The manager asked her a question to confirm that the second bagel she wanted was a cheese bagel, or something like that. The woman answered yes. But then, quite amazingly she replied, “Oh, and I need you to go ahead and spread the cream cheese on that as well.” What the what????

I resisted the urge to turn this into a metaphor for describing our culture . . . Well, OK, actually I didn’t resist at all. I think it is a PERFECT metaphor for understanding our culture, especially the culture we minister in.

If the manager had responded with a, “Hey lady, why don’t you spread your own cream cheese?” he probably would have landed in hot water. But, if he had responded that way, I could have sympathized with him.  

I don’t know about you, but over the years I have felt like that manager must have felt.

Over the years, I’ve engaged with so many teenagers who looked to me and to our other youth workers as the source for the entirety of their spiritual progress. (I’ve also engaged with many who were phenomenal at owning their own spiritual growth.) Not only did these students look to us for the bagels, but they wanted us to spread the cream cheese as well. :)

So here’s the question for you to SOUND OFF on:

What do you do when you want to see spiritual growth in students WAY more than they (or even their parents) want it?


Sound off in the comment section below with your thoughts. We’re looking forward to hearing what you have to say!



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