Over the last 11 years I have volunteered in different youth groups; inside the church, outside of the church, high school, as well as middle school.
The first youth group I helped out with was with a Jr. High youth group at my former church which went by the name CHAOS.
Truth to be told, it was.
I remember how naive then, calling the shots and acting like an authority figure without having a relationship with my group of guys. Yeah, that didn’t work out that well. But I quickly surmised that Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights were not enough, and so I found ways to connect with my group of guys outside the designated times. We had video game nights, my invented sport of “formal basketball”, and a Proverbs Bible study. It was outside the box, it was quirky and it was messy, but those guys I knew back then in my early years of youth ministry, I still keep in touch. In fact, one of my earlier youth ministry students is a guy who has introduced me to his trivia league at a bar in my area (he’s over 21 now so it’s all good) which I try to go to every Wednesday.
I do admit, that there have been times where the CHAOS was more internal or external. When I first started high school youth ministry it was with Young Life. I needed a 2 year internship when I was once a youth ministry major in college, and my bro from community college days hooked me up with the youth group he attended and went on to lead in. I was stoic and reserved, and I kept to myself as a leader because I think I honestly didn’t know how to come across as a ‘type a extrovert who dives into the games headfirst with reckless abandon.’ At that time I didn’t know how to utilize my strengths because I perceived them as weaknesses; I am a type b ambivert who is good with leading a small group. I am also someone who’ll ask the designated questions, and ask more pertinent questions than the ones provided to me. I am also one to call out students who give me answers they think I want to hear rather than the ones that they really want to give.
As a result of my strengths and weaknesses in the context of youth ministry, I know where my place is and I am okay with that. Too often ministry in any context appears to be an Anglo-Saxon W.A.S.P. extroverted males club ONLY, but I thank God for diversity and the ability to use my strengths accordingly. I also am thankful that youth ministry isn’t about me, and that I don’t need to put on an air of ‘look at what I am doing’ but rather ‘look at what God is doing’ and I see that on a regular basis.
Youth ministry isn’t where I’m going to end up work-wise, and I’m okay with that. I will still invest in the lives of others but in a different context because I realize where my strengths lie and I’m going to give it all I have.