Confessions of a Youth Leader

Ten Awesome Years

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

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By Scott Canfield 1996

As I sit in church, I look down the row of high school students next to me.  I see hands folding.  Not folding as if in prayer; I see a row of hands folding bulletins into paper airplanes. When the service is over, I pull my jacket off the back of my chair.  As I put it on, I find the sleeves and pockets are full of crumpled papers.  I wonder about my effectiveness as a youth leader.  I wonder if God is telling me, “Don’t quit your day job.”

I know I have good relationships with most of the kids.  I’m also aware that in my effort to develop the kind of relationships in which I could be someone that a high schooler could come to with a personal problem or a serious question, I’ve apparently done so at the expense of authority.  I don’t know if a teacher or leader can have the good friend relationship, while at the same time commanding discipline.  At least it doesn’t seem to work for me.

I’m sure I could mandate a quiet and orderly Sunday school class if I was a strict teacher.  But then, what is the purpose of the class?  They should sit quietly and listen attentively while I read authoritatively?  That would be a nice change, but sometimes the best opportunities for teaching pop out of no where, like that hat or cookie that gets tossed across the class room.

These bold statements that proceed out of young mouths, “Aids is God’s punishment” or “Everything is predetermined” or “God knows exactly when you’re going to die, because that’s when he TAKES you,” are some of the rare gems that can open wonderful debates.  I know they can be the key that opens a door to realization; I’ve seen that undeniable expression on innocent faces.

It’s my foremost hope to open a door to Jesus.  But the conversation topics often roll back and forth across the Sunday school class room like ocean waves, crashing against the corners and walls, fragmenting and reversing into several directions.  I’m pointing and shouting, “Quiet! Quiet!”  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes the waves just run their natural course.

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Written by scanfie

February 10, 2012 at 2:01 am

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