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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Real Talk: Youth Leader Myths

This topic has been weighing on my heart and mind for quite awhile. And when I say quite awhile, I'm talking AWHILE. As most of you know, Hunter and I accepted the position as youth leaders at a small church. As most of you don't know, we were very very hesitant to do so. I will be the first to say this: We have an awesome foundation and support of the pastor and his wife at this church. And that really helped us in our decision making.

We realized that the main reason holding us back from making this decision was because of what we had dealt with in the last year or so, and the judgment that (we felt) many people would place upon us for choosing to step away from an unhealthy situation. And we realized that allowing the opinions of others to control our desire to share the Gospel is not Christ-like; Jesus never stopped His works even in the face of resentment, fear, and struggle. Why should we allow past events to control our future decisions?
Now that the story (with major details left out simply out of respect for others) of our journey to this point has been made clear, I want to share with ya'll some myths of youth leaders, and why they are blatantly false and honestly, just disrespectful.

 one// You're just the "glorified babysitter."
I'll be honest, this title makes me laugh hysterically because oh my sweet friend, you are so sorely mistaken. If I recall correctly, the last time I babysat (eons and eons ago) I don't remember spending hours upon hours of planning lessons, diving into scripture in detail to better understand things to be able to put it into teen terms, brainstorming ways to raise money for these kids to be able to do activities, loving these kids as if they are my own, etc. The amount of time, love, energy, and patience that goes into ensuring that these teens are receiving the true Gospel is overwhelmingly huge (in a good way). And this is in addition to my real full-time career (shocker), being a wife, leading a women's ministry group, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life. And to lay those questions to rest, no, we are not paid to be youth leaders and prefer it to stay that way.
two// Teens will do what teens want to do - you can't change anything.

My response to this is: You will do what you want to do - Jesus came here to change that. No, it's not our responsibility to save a person; that's the Holy Spirit's job. OUR job is to do everything in our power to plant that seed to ALLOW the Holy Spirit to work in those teens' lives. It's no different than sharing the Gospel with adults, people in foreign countries, etc. All we are called to do is love them first, and then plant the seed. The Holy Spirit is pretty dang powerful - give Him some credit.

three// Youth leaders are supposed to make youth group fun, not another boring place for my kid(s).

Yes, fun is always good. I'm a firm believer in fun. We will sometimes play games, sing songs, do goofy things, have movie nights, etc. That's all fine and dandy. Here's my issue with this myth: Although the Bible has many wonderful, happy stories it also has it's fair share of serious stories. You cannot, cannot, cannot just take part of the Bible that makes you feel oh-so-happy and disregard the rest. The Bible is applicable in every.single.way. Even the uncomfortable stuff. Everything we do with our teens has a purpose and we always link it back to scripture - the happy stuff and the tough stuff. Heck, our lives are a product solely on the love and works of God in the old and new testament; why shouldn't we do the same and revolve our lives around both the old and new testament?

four// How can you have so many issues? You're a youth leader - you're supposed to be a representation of having it all together!

This myth, by far, irks me the most. I don't care if you're a youth leader, pastor of the church, police officer, politician, mother, father, carpenter... You're HUMAN first and foremost. Just because a title has been placed across your back does not mean you are exempt from struggles in life, sinful temptations, etc. When I'm frustrated beyond words, I will let a cuss word or two slip. When I've had a stressful day, I may have not just one glass of wine, but two! There are moments that my husband and I don't necessarily like each other (doesn't mean we don't love each other). There are people in my life that make me so spittin' mad that I could just slap 'em some days. We're real; we struggle; we're trying to figure out this life too. Take us off the pedestal of perfection and understand that we are human too. Hunter and I believe in full transparency: we've got issues, you've got issues, let's do this together.

There are so many other myths out there, and many more will come up throughout the years. Regardless, Hunter and I love what we do. We love God first and foremost, and then people secondly. We particularly love teenagers and cannot wait to do life together with them. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, constructive criticism, feel free to let me know! Like I said earlier, I can handle the judgment. Can you handle the response?
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  1. Great post. My husband was a youth leader for years so I have definitely seen these myths debunked in real life. I always joke with him that it's weird he wants to hang out with teenagers all the time though hahaha

  2. I love this post!!! Especially the last point. I think it's so important for teens to see that their leaders and people they respect are HUMAN too. I feel like I spent so much time trying to live up to an impossible ideal when I was little just because our leaders appeared so perfect and together. Then my youth pastor got a tattoo and had to hold a conference with all the parents (we had 100+ teens in our high school group!) to explain his tattoo and why he got it... Looking back I would be SO livid!