On this 4th of July, because I am British, you might expect me to say something bad about Independence Day. (Haha!) However, I now live in Michigan, I love the people, and I love the idea of freedom that emanates all around the world because of this country. But, here’s the specific problem I have with independence within youth ministry…
You see, independence, when lived out in healthy ways is no problem at all. But there is an unhealthy independence that I see in many youth workers in the local church today. Here’s what I mean:
- It’s the unhealthy independence that says, “I know better”
- It’s the unhealthy independence that has little regard for leadership structure
- It’s the unhealthy independence that constantly lives as the “victim youth worker” within the church
- It’s the unhealthy independence whose key phrase is, “it’s better to ask for forgiveness, than it is to ask for permission”
- It’s the unhealthy independence which considers others inferior or deficient in their thinking
- It’s the unhealthy independence which establishes a silo ministry that is independent from the parents of students we work with
- It’s the unhealthy independence that looks to protect our buildings, spaces, and resources, rather than share
There’s a lot more I could say, but are you with me and my thinking? You see, it’s important to be a strong leader and someone of healthy convictions and independence. However, it’s important to realize that independence can become unhealthy and self-serving in our churches if we are not careful. Here’s some good and painful lessons I have learned personally:
- Youth Ministries should be a part of a team in the church, regardless of whether or not others have the same vision
- We can always learn from others and their points of view. Personally, I have found that God gives me different people to help me learn my most valuable lessons. What is God teaching you? Who is He using to teach you?
- We are employed as youth workers not senior pastors. We should know our place and submit to God ordained authority in our lives…
- Being a victim youth worker is a choice. If we are in difficult situations, we can either choose to stay and celebrate God’s calling of us there, or we can choose to move on. (I have done both).
- Constantly asking for forgiveness instead of permission can be disguise for not having the leadership ability to ask others difficult questions or communicate a compelling need. Are we simply side-stepping leadership growth by not asking others for permission?
- Whether or not we know better, it’s imperative to realize that people do not listen if we come across as the “know it all”
- Our ministries thrive when we share our resources, people, and spaces. Favors can often be returned at the most crucial times.
- Without a good support and connection of parents, our ministries will die
I hope you are enjoying a good summer and Independence Day. How are you going to pursue healthy independence in the coming weeks?