9.23.2007

It's one of the things I've always feared

One of my kids came up to me after our church school classes let out today and asked, "Are you really as obsessed with God as you were down in the gym this morning?"

(Each week we gather for 20 minutes or so of fellowship as a whole group before they break off into classes, and each week I do a Gospel minute where I share a story about the Gospel lesson that applies to the students' lives. That's what she meant.)

"My friend says you're only like that here because that's what you're paid to do. When you go home you're probably like, 'Oh, whatever.'"

It was hard to hear. And I'm not sure what to do about it, since I can't just take all my students home and have them live with me. They know, because I tell them all the time, that I truly enjoy life with God, but I've always wondered if professional youth workers have less credibility after kids figure out that we get paid.

6 comments:

Esther said...

It's okay to get paid to do what you love. Sure, volunteering is the ultimate nobility, but we all have bills. Since I just started a job that I really enjoy I guess I have spent some time thinking about this. It's not really work in the classic sense to me anymore. I like what I'm doing it. I probably would volunteer a little in this type of work if I was not getting paid, but only if I were getting paid to do something else. You know, you have to have money. Why not get paid to do what you really want to do?

Eric said...

Biblically there is definetly support for being paid for ministry, 1 Corinthians 8 or 9. As far as working with youth and credibility are concerned spending down time with them during youth functions, spending time with them outside of church like attending non-church functions, and talking to them about your life all help give them impresions of what you are like outside of church and will help them realize you are for real.

Isaac, The Rookie said...

Thanks for hearing me vent on this one; I spent this afternoon sorting out sports schedules my kids sent me this week, so I'm much more aware of how kids see me outside the church, but hearing someone say flat out what that student said to me was really tough. Thanks for hearing me out!

Lance said...

that was a venting... man... I am starting to feel really guilty about my rants...

If you can... visit my blog and answer my question about cliques...

ty... youthministryblog brother.

Anonymous said...

Isaac, unless your skills have improved by several orders of magnitude over the past few years, you're just not a good enough actor to sustain that level of enthusiasm over such a long time unless it was fundamentally real.

Quite possibly no one is that
good an actor.

If a person were that good an actor, would he or she be working as a youth worker for a youth worker's pay?

Would anyone choose to be a youth worker because of the pay? Or a pastor, a teacher, etc?

If you, yourself, selected your current employment on the basis the best possible pay you could get, would you be a youth worker? I think not. You could be earning more for easier work.

This might be a good trigger for a discussion with your students about vocations and careers. What jobs do people choose out of love, either love of the work itself or love for those being served? What jobs do people choose because of the pay or for other payoffs? The teenagers should be thinking about these issues as they face decisions about their curricula in high school, whether or where to attend college, and so on.

Also, check out Robert Frost's "Two Tramps in Mud Time" and Madeline L'Engle's reference to it... I think it's in The Young Unicorns.

Isaac, The Rookie said...

I'm not sure I approve of my acting skills getting knocked on, ;-) but thanks for the boost! It is one of the things we'll be working through in a small group series in the next little while.

Ironically, the student who said this to me doesn't stick around long enough at our Bible studies to hear the stories I tell about real life during my teaching time at the end to hear how much I love God when I'm not here...