We know that as youth workers, we wear a gambit of hats. With job descriptions that run longer than most Deacon meetings, we do just about anything and everything. Recently I was thinking about some of those hats and what they mean for us as youth workers. Here are some of those thoughts.
For most of us, the hat of Activity Director is one that we most often finding ourselves wearing. For many churches, and parents, we become the ones charged with the work of entertaining the student population. Concerts, amusement parks, scavenger hunts, lock ins, and movies. Like the program director with a cruise line working to meet the activity needs of their guests, we plan, invent, promote, and entertain with the best of them.
Students are always looking for direction. Very often we spend a considerable amount of time meeting one on one with teens who are asking questions, looking for answers and needing guidance. With topics ranging from school to relationships, home life to spirituality, and future life decisions to serious issues such as eating disorders, self harm, and sexuality questions; we hear it all. For many students, we become the ear and the hope they can’t find at home in school or with their friends.
The Parent Stand In
For some of us, when students are missing one or both of their parents, we put on the hat of parenting. It’s sometimes the simple things like guy/girl questions, rights from wrongs, encouragement and cheerleading, compliments and support that teens miss when one or both parents step out of their lives for whatever reason. I find that sometimes, that “fatherly advice” that was once given to me, is exactly what one of my guys needs to hear.
This is the hat we wear as we walk with students through the adolescent years. Like Jesus, we naturally teach, instruct, reinforce, correct, and encourage our students as they navigate through the oceans of Faith and Life. Our hope is that they become strong and mature Christian adults.
The hat we might wear the most is the hat of Friend. Perhaps what matters the most in ministry to students is that they know they have a friend. But not just a friend that likes to hang out with them, but a friends that desires the best for them. A friend that truly cares for them. A friend who is willing to be honest and approachable. A friend who is trustworthy. A friend who loves them for who they are. A friend who can show them who Jesus really is.
There are many more hats to be worn and perhaps written about. But for now, let’s simply consider these five and serve our students well.