For the last few years, I have ceased to be a full time salaried youthworker/minister/whatever. Thankfully, the role for which I now draw a salary has some engagement with young people but it is no longer the primary role. This means that much of my contribution in the youth work world is done as a volunteer and after over 15 years in salried roles, this has been quite a change.
The advantages of being a volunteer in youth work and ministry?
1) The politics of organisation can be more readily avoided (not ignored though!)
2)People in authority often treat you better
3) It is easier to avoid the red herrings to effective work
4) Influence on behalf of the youth team is expanded
These were my top four – it has to be said that I miss aspects of that salaried role but nevertheless, love the things I am doing now. Neither is better, or worse, its just different. A little like the Starbucks logo change……hmmmmmmm.
Once in a while things fall naturally into place – when those moments come it is exciting and liberating. Usually though, life is full of head scratching moments that have us searching in our quest for appropriate decisions.
My passion for youth work has never waned, for many years is was my employment status but for the last little while my employment has been in a different sphere, whilst having smaller influence in the youth world. It has not always been easy, yet now things are different. In a few days time the journey takes me back into youthwork as a volunteer – needless to say, I am stoked. The adrenaline is pumping, the excitement is at fever pitch levels and part of me realises that “I AM COMING HOME!”
It is a brand new group/idea and there are just 2 of us getting ready to roll but the roller coaster ride of success and failure is about to begin again. Time to think and dream, time to sit in the stairwell of the young people, time to weep and rejoice, time to be liberated to the call of God.
In writing this, I am aware that some will not understand – guess what? I don’t care! I am Home!
The last 9 months have been an interesting journey. My change in jobs has meant that I am no longer considered a “youth” worker/minister/pastor. For some, this is not an issue but for others it is – and for me it has been a time of reflection. 20 years in youthwork has been fun, exhausting and the best ride of my life. However, I still consider myself part of the youthworker club (couldn’t think of a better name – youthdom??!!) and still engage with youth – the difference is that it is as a volunteer and no longer as a salaried role.
Over the years my priorities changed, my ways of working altered and my views on success changed radically. With so many years experience people view you as some kind of authority and whilst the experience counts for a great deal, even those of us with significant years under our belts can make mistakes. My job role may have changed but I still consider myself a youthworker and will always fight the youthwork corner in any debate – this youthworker has not died.
So, as a volunteer and as a vocal supporter of youthdom in my salaried role, I have found the same struggles, joys and exhaustion as before. Even last night my sleep was restless as I pondered the youthwork of my local church – my desire is still the best, my passion still for the young and my heart beats with the same old drum. Is this the death of a youthworker? Not a chance – here’s to another 20 years!