I am constantly reminded at how lucky I am to have a wonderfuly supportive church community within my parish and an incredible network of fellow youthworkers throughout the diocese of Oxford (and now a little further afield too!) as well as a fantastic and eclectic group of people learning and praying with me at the SAOMC.
Marko has been extremely open about his experience of an incredibly unsupportive and in fact destructively manipulative church community. Ali C has shared with us something a youth worker had emailed him about the incredibly high expectations placed on a youth worker.
Both these stories show that as gifted as youth workers might be and as strong as their calling is to serve in a particular place, it also takes the community in which their working to find that gift and that calling to support the work. (It seems Ben has been exploring that issue of community ownership recently) I know that the fact that my parish employs a youthworker often pushes the budget to the limits but I also know that you cannot quantify what we achieve in youth ministry. You can make all the targest and benchmark systems in the world. The impact of one person's LIFE and MODEL and MINISTRY on individuals is immeasurable. In fact someone wise (thought I can't remember who) said that it is far better NOT to know the impact we might have on people's lives as we'd only get despondent or arrogant.
Think about it... Have you ever told someone from your formative years what a difference they made? I know there are some people in my past who have influenced me in ways they wouldn't necessarily look on gladly - people whose leadership style have made me think, "I'm DEFINITELY going to do that differently" but those people don't need to know that. I've also sat in wonder contemplating the AWESOMENESS of the example of some people but I know that to tell them would not help them. In fact I don't NEED to tell them. God pretty much takes care of giving us enough hope most of the time, I find.
Often in working with young people I wonder if anything I do makes a difference to any of them but then I see a small change, a glimmer of Christ's light shining in the life of JUST ONE of them and I KNOW it is all worth it. It may be "through a glass darkly" but ever so slightly LESS darkly and that slight lightening doesn't make me want to see the clear light face to face NOW it simply assures me that it is there and it WILL be there. I keep coming back to Jesus words to Martha:
"You are worried and distracted by many things. There is need of only one thing."
p.s. Both of these guys are now on the blogroll and I look forward to hearing what they have to say in the future.Thanks to Ben and Tim for bringing these to my attention!