I was recently reading about a youth worker struggling with how much time they DO NOT spend with teenagers. Sounds odd right? I mean, youth workers spend time with teenagers to build relationships, impart spiritual truth etc, right?
This post was not written by some “old fart” youth worker complaining about having to spend time with teens. This was a fairly young youth worker contemplating how much time they should spend with students and should they feel bad if they did not. He and I are in similar boats.
After 28 years working with youth, I find that this generation needs me in smaller doses and bedsides, Google (right or wrong) answers most of their questions now. They don’t want a 49 year old guy trying to be their friend (that’s just weird) or creep around at events unless they are invited.
I went to one of our kids plays the other night even though she was only part of the crowd scenes. I left right after the play and texted her what a great job she did. I was there to support her and that is the role I now take, that of best supporting actor in the dram-edy that is a teenagers life. I like being the supporting actor. In the past I thought I had to be the star, the leading man but now, like this young lady, a familiar face in the crowd sounds like the right role for me in this stage of my career.
The kids I serve are good kids, very little in the drama dept. I have good young adults who take up the slack and an Intern who does a great job at all the small things I’m not particularly interested in.
Essentially, I have worked myself out of a job, and I’m ok with that. Maybe it’s time for new challenges . So, do I think this guy was slacking? Nope. I think we should follow the lead of the students we serve as to how much we should be involved in their lives, regardless of what our church board says our involvement should be.
Parents, not youth workers, are the stars of the family. Youth workers are extra’s. We stand in the background adding value to the scenes being played out before us. Occasionally, we get a spoken line and maybe a credit in the end scroll that says “Guy on bike #1”.
I am not saying youth workers do not play an important part in the lives of some churches, some families, and some kids, what I am saying that we shouldn’t try so hard to be the stars when best supporting actor are being called for.
We should always be intentional, discerning and present at critical times in a students life so we can offer wisdom and direction. You know, the stuff Google can’t do.