When I started being paid as a youth worker, almost the same day people started asking me when I was going to get a proper job. Thank you – I have one! It is very easy to blame others for not taking us seriously. Sometimes, though it is simply because we don’t take ourselves seriously. We have one thing to offer God – ourselves, and in doing this we need to take it seriously.
I remember reading in a business book once that people tend to get fired not because they have done a bad job, but rather because the organisation has lost trust in them – they have no political capital left. We need to take church politics seriously. They are not a bad thing per se, but can trip us up! We need to understand what churches expect from us as youth leaders (if we are paid or voluntary) and to be clear on what we can and can’t do. If we deliver a little of what they want, we can expect something of what we want (eg a space to talk about our work, a room of our own or whatever). But sulking and demanding what we want rarely works. Understand the game we are in!
Which brings me on to wider politics. I wish we would take seriously our responsibility to raise a politically engaged generation. Politics and votes matter. The groups that vote the most tend to get the most out of the government. If we raise a politically apathetic generation they we continue to be marginalised and unheard by people in power. Jesus was not afraid of politics (he had quite a lot to say about power, money and the marginalised), and we need to help young people to understand and engage.
No one can help and encourage youth leaders like other youth leaders. We should all be people who invest in young people but also in other youth leaders. Take one another out for coffee, grab a moment after church to ask how things are really going, send a card or a text. Have a leaders meeting with nothing on the agenda but eating a lasagne together. Support and care for one another and from this network of support and care you can show young people how amazing it is to be a part of the community called church!