Fears of a Youth Group Leader #1

Well I promised I would blog straight away once exams are done, so no more excuses, here I come. Going to jump straight into some serious topics; and this is something that has been on  my mind just recently, so it’s still fresh in my head.

Having been in “ministry” for a good 4 years now, I can say that I hold several fears in my position as a youth group leader. No, they’re not fears that will cause me to drift away from God, but they are fears which will make me hesitant to act in the best way for the kids I’m serving. (Note that Christian leading involves service to others).

When it comes to reaching people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, you really can’t just “sell” Jesus as a product by simply “advertising” Christianity with its benefits and rewards. Like how many people describe it on Facebook, Christianity is rather more of a relationship with a god, than a religion. As such, to describe a relationship, you need to show a relationship; that is, sharing the gospel with others involves getting to know the other person as a friend.

So without going into too much detail, the basic summary of leading other Christians, is to develop a relationship with them. Relationships take time, and because we have a limited amount of time each day, there is a limit to the number of relationships we can handle.

My first (but perhaps not the greatest) fear of being a youth leader is that I won’t have enough time to deal with all the relationships I have with the year 9-10 boys that I lead. With all the people around me from all sorts of places, I really do wonder if I have enough time to keep them around me – primary school friends, high school friends, uni friends, church friends, youth group kids.

I realize that I have neglected a lot of people in my life this year, partly due to the strenuous amount of work I have each work, all my duties and responsibilities with uni, church and work. And at the end of such a long year, I really do want to get back into contact with all those people I’ve somewhat forgotten over the year. At the same time I want to be able to further those relationships that I have with the people I’ve been in frequent contact with. And at the same time as a youth group leader, I really do need to get to know the boys better so that I may help them grow as Christians.

As such, “priorities” is a thing that comes into play for decision-making – who do I spend my time on? Should it be my high school and uni friends because I’ve known them for so long as such? Or is it the kids at youth group because it’s our responsibility to see them grow for the Kingdom of God? A possible answer is “both”, but by choosing both, by choosing all your relationships, it’s really hard to make any of them grow because you have to divide your time and energy so thinly among them. And at the end of the day, you’d rather have one thing grow, than to try and make everything grow but not really succeed.

I’m inclined to spend more time getting to know my group better, because I really do want them to know God better; but at the same time I also want to help my other friends, particularly those of my age group, to know God better too. Doing both at the same time doesn’t really seem like it’s paying off and so here’s my dilemma on what to do.

Some of the reasoning that goes through my head is:

1. I should spend more time with my high school and uni friends because I got to know them first and as such I should dedicate more of myself to who I’ve known the longest.

2. I should spend more time with the youth group kids because we find joy and satisfaction seeing them grow up to be more like Christ.

The problem with point 2 is that there always seems to be some correlation with the words “duty” and “obligation” – sometimes it does feel like serving at youth group is a “job” and as such we have some sort of “contract” or “agreement” to see the kids grow up in a godly way. Such thoughts really don’t help in me wanting to “choose” to serve the kids that I’ve gotten to know over the last two years.

It really gets on my mind to think along these lines: If I want to make a relationship grow (for some purpose) then I need to somewhat neglect other relationships, in which then that first relationship will be the only relationship I’ll have. Does this mean then that those devout in serving God at church as a youth leader have to sacrifice their social lives and have no other friends other than the kids at youth group? This is indeed a very farfetched thought but I do believe there is some conflict in working out whether this thought is completely wrong or right.

As such, if I had to answer to this question, it wouldn’t really be my fear anymore.

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