“In my way of thinking, youth ministry years
are like dog years —
except the ratio is about nine to one.”
If the above quote is true—shoot, it must be… Wayne said it!!—then if you’ve only been doing ministry for, say, three months, then you’ve been doing—uh, read that survived—over two youth ministry years in the trenches! Way to go! You are a veteran of foreign (culturally speaking) wars.
Early on in my youth ministry career I was given a diagram depicting the perfect “youth worker.” Some of his perfect features were: a beard (the better to be hip with; this was coming out of the late 70s, I guess), a Bible in one hand (the better to get the Word to his students) and a guitar in the other (you have to be able to lead sing-a-longs to be perfect… everybody knows that). But the most noteworthy feature of the perfect youth worker were on his feet: roller-skates. The skates allowed him to be quick and light on his feet, able to be several places at once, responding to whatever crises came his way with great aplomb and wit. Yeah, right.
I took some comfort from the diagram—at least I had the beard. But even with the academically correct degrees, and years of experience, there was so much I was unprepared for. I wouldn’t have made it without the help of a couple veteran youth ministers (16, and 20, youth ministry years, respectively) in the area, who received my panicked visits and calls with the greatest of patience, never laughing at me once. They led me to resources that made a big difference in how prepared I felt for the various challenges that come with the territory. And they encouraged me to believe in myself more than I was willing to do.
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