Promise 7: Celebrate Your Ministry

Over the last few weeks, we have been examining the 7 promises of the We Love Our Youth Worker Covenant, an agreement between covenant churches and their employee-youth workers.  This week we are going to delve into Promise 7 – a promise about celebrating the youth ministry of your church.
From the church’s point of view, the church says,
We will celebrate and appreciate
  • We believe it’s vital to acknowledge what our youth worker is doing and the commitment they have made to work with young people in our church.
  • We promise to make sure our youth worker knows they are appreciated and we will celebrate his or her achievements.
 The youth worker says in return,

We will celebrate our church’s investment in youth ministry

  • We promise to make sure our young people, volunteers and church leaders know how much they are appreciated.

In a very basic sense, this promise is just about basic manners – it’s a reminder to say “Thank you.”  I’ve been in youth ministry for 15 years, and I could probably count on one hand the number of times a youth came back as a young adult and actually said thank you for my time spent in ministry.  This doesn’t mean that people aren’t appreciative, but in our coaching-life-from-the-sidelines position, we often become unsung heroes in the lives of young people.

People, as a general rule, long to be loved and appreciated.  Yet we tend as a culture to get caught up in other things and neglect to show our love and appreciation for others.  Celebrating others doesn’t need to involve throwing a party.  Here are four key phrases that we could all add into our conversations to show our appreciation:  

  1. The first phrase we could all use more is a simple “Thank you.”  It means a lot to be appreciated, and this WLOYW promise acknowledges that.
    From the person who rings up your groceries to your senior pastor, people long to be acknowledged and given gratitude.  A thank you card or saying thank you speaks volumes.  Simply looking someone in the eye and telling them “thank you” can be very meaningful.
    In case someone in your church forgot to say it already – Thank you for planning a lock-in.  Thank you for teaching God’s word.  Thank you for loving young people.  Even if your situation is imperfect, your church has invested in youth ministry by having you there.  Who can you thank?
  2. “I love you.”  Love is a crazy thing.  Our culture throws all sorts of illustrations of usually-inappropriate forms of love at us, doesn’t it?  Not real love, not God’s love.  But you can show love and appreciation for others in how you treat them.  And you can take that to the next level by telling people you love them.  As crazy as this distinction sounds, people can hear the difference between a “Love ya” and an “I love you.”
  3. “What do you need?”  While my youth group helped do yard work for a shut-in, I learned a valuable lesson on love and semantics.  Our client explained that it’s really hard to ask for help from others when you need it, especially when you’re used to being able to do everything yourself.  While people often told her, “if you need anything, just let us know,” she still didn’t want to have to call people and ask for help.  Their offers were sincere and caring.  She explained that real love is finding out what a person needs and doing it for them without their having to ask for help.  There is a big difference between saying you are there to help and finding someone’s need and helping with it.  In youth ministry, this could translate as your finding out what a family needs and getting it done for them.  I know as a youth worker I always have a lot of tasks that need to be done.  We could do it by ourselves, but how awesome would it be if a volunteer came by your office and offered to take care of some paperwork for you, without your even having to ask for help?
  4. “I’m sorry.”  I hate to admit it, but I mess up sometimes.  I’ve said things that hurt people’s feelings unintentionally.  I’ve done youth ministry activities that seemed like a good idea in the planning stages.  When you do something wrong or hurt someone, say you’re sorry.  “Cathy, I’m sorry my brilliant youth craft idea resulted in acrylic paint ruining your son’s expensive sweatshirt.”  Even when you don’t think you’ve done the wrong thing, say sorry if you made someone upset.  It doesn’t hurt you to say it, and it lets others know you love and appreciate them.
These four phrases used often can positively change your life and how people react to you.
You are a blessing in the lives of young people.  You deserve to be celebrated!  When the youth, their families, your church, your pastor forget to tell you that, know you are appreciated just the same.  Sometimes the best way to find out if you are appreciated, is to start the cycle yourself.  So, I’ll go first on behalf of the YouthWorker Movement:
Thank you for all that you do.
We love you.
We are here to help support your ministry with resources and encouragement.
And we’re sorry for when we make mistakes.

Get the conversation started in your church about the need for healthy youth ministry and healthy youth workers.  Consider having your church apply to become WLOYW certified.  Hold each other accountable.  I wish I could say that if you get your church to buy in to the We Love Our Youth Worker covenant, all of your youth ministry heartaches will go away.  They won’t, but it’s a healthy start.

 

Be blessed,

Erin

Thoughts?
What would you add or take away from the WLOYW covenant?

How would you propose making sure something like the WLOYW covenant works in your setting?

What keeps you from doing your part of the WLOYW covenant?

 

 

The Promises of the We Love Our Youth Worker covenant (and links to more info):

Promise 1 - The church says, “We will pray and spiritually support,” and the youth worker promises, “We will pray for our church, its leaders and members and our community.”
Promise 2 - The church says, “We will give space for retreat and reflection,” and the youth worker promises, “We will make our own spiritual growth a priority.”
Promise 3 – The church says, “We will provide ongoing training and development,” and the youth worker promises, “We will commit to continued learning and growth.”
Promise 4 – The church says, “We will give at least one full day of rest per week,” and the youth worker promises, “We will take at least one day off each week and vacation time.”
Promise 5 – The church says, “We will share responsibility,” and the youth worker promises, “We will ask for help and share the youth ministry with others.”
Promise 6 – The church says, “We will strive to be an excellent employer,” and the youth worker promises, “We will strive to be excellent employees.”
And Promise 7 – We will celebrate and appreciate.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for this post!

    In an effort to heighten the opportunities to say thank you and celebrate youth work, in 2009 a group of youth work executives in Indiana began an effort to lift up one day a year as Thank A Youth Worker Day. This year it is Thursday, May 3 (coincidentally also the National Day of Prayer). Resources on how to participate can be found at http://www.thankayouthworkerday.org. Follow on twitter at @youthworkthanks.

    Blessings!

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