I am, at heart, a youthworker. I have been one all of my adult working life. Even through 5 years as a teacher I was still a youthworker. Even though now my average contact hours on a weekly basis with those over the age of 10 is in single digits, I am a youthworker. I believe passionately in young people: their outlook on life; their energy; their honesty. I have been in the privileged position to stand alongside a whole bunch of teens who are now in their twenties through some hard situations
So youthworkers don’t do politics right? Especially Church Politics… Except that if we have our eye on the long game, if we want what we do to last, to be sustainable, Church Politics aka Working With Others, should be the first thing on our list. I have been reading ‘Sustainable Youth Ministry’ by Mark Devries and honestly if you are in youthwork, especially (though not exclusively) if you’re in Church based youth ministry, this is a book to be read. With a notebook and pen next to you, one chapter at a time while you pause in between to decide how the bit you’ve just read relates to your own group. It is fantastic and one of the things that the book recommends is learning to play ‘Church Politics’.
So much of what we think do and say is about or affected by expectations. Whether we wear them on our sleeves or hid them under layers of politeness and/or insecurity, what we expect of other people in our lives makes a massive difference to our overall outlook and attitude to life. Learning to live without expectations of others can mean success instead of failure, across the whole spectrum of life.
Knowing the people you work with enough to be able to get alongside them and encourage them in what they do is a sure way to make life much happier! Understanding what makes people tick and how to work with them instead of having to fight a battle to get your opinions heard has got to be the best plan for working relationships. Now don’t read me wrong, I’m not talking about manipulating people, I’m not suggesting we simply get to know someone so that we can get the best out of them in a selfish way. I am saying that we ought to get to know those we work with and for in order that those relationships can work for the best for all concerned.
I am a youthworker and I will play the ‘politics’ game, but call it Working With Others and do it in love and out of respect for those I work with and for.