Recently, I’ve been challenged in my job as a local church youth worker. Why did I get into this career in the first place? Is it enough to just be chatting together and eating cake?
After reviewing attendance at youth group over previous holidays, it was decided that we would not run our sessions over the summer and allow a period of rest. Since a great deal of my role is in schools work, my workload drastically reduced in July. This ‘challenge’ sounds like no hardship but when you are used to spending so much time with children and young people, I felt very much at a loss.
I found myself planning for a new phase of our youth group and thinking about how best to move forward with my work.
Whilst this is necessary, as with report writing, session planning and other admin, it’s not what gets me up in the morning.
After planning for next term, I made a point of having several meetings with our young leaders over lunch and coffee to go through my ideas, get their input and see how they might like to be involved. I also had the opportunity to spend time with some of my young people in smaller groups which was fantastic.
Afterwards, I met with my minister and we were laughing about how great it is that I get paid to eat cake and chat! However, this made me take a step back and think about why chose youth work as my career in the first place.
Paperwork and planning is vital but actually being with young people and forming relationships, whether over sandwiches or cake is my ‘bread and butter’. Put simply, it’s what I love to do.
To continue, we see so many example in the Bible of Jesus talking and eating with friends and strangers alike. From dinner with outcasts to breakfast on the beach with the disciples, Jesus uses mealtimes to connect with people, show them he cares and address difficult subjects.
The conversation I had with my minister started in jest however I want to say that we should not downplay the importance of simply being with people.
Let’s never underestimate the value of a good conversation with a trusted colleague, friend or young person.
My experience this summer has given me food for thought and allowed me to ponder some questions I’d like to share with you:
- What made you choose this career? What aspects of your job get you excited? Try and find more time this week to engage in them!
- Is there a way you can you put more emphasis on being with people this week? Give yourself time to enjoy conversations with the people right on your doorstep.
Youth Worker and Go For It Committee Member
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