I loved the movie Battleship. What? You did too? I think that’s great. Not surprising, there’s so many of us. For the few of you who haven’t seen this masterpiece, lemme give you a quick breakdown. The movie takes a fantastic board game, adds a few underachieving dudes who never have their shirts on, and solid dialog only a fifth grader could follow. In case this isn’t enough for a blockbuster hit, they throw aliens into the mix. Perfect, right? I know.
Anyhow, near the end of the movie, humanity’s hope has fading fast. All the ships are destroyed and the heroes are scattered (but still shirtless, so they have that going for them). BUT WAIT, they have a ship: only it is ancient and decommissioned. BUT WAIT, it’s a battleship (hence the clever title) and maybe it could do some damage to the super awesome aliens. BUT WAIT, they have no crew! Except now they do because all these 80 year old dudes show up and they used to drive this thing.
So at this point, I actually shed a tear (no lies). All these old guys had pride in their ship and they knew what to do. The AIMER guy runs to aim the guns. The LOADER guy goes and loads the “ordinance” (you civilians call them bombs). The ENGINEER goes and starts the engines. They even had one guy running around to make sure the bathrooms had TP– for those embarrassing after moments when you’ve soiled yourself in the heat of battle (it happens, trust me).
Truth be told, I really did love the part where everyone knew their part and could play their roles properly.
The more you know, the more you can minister. While this definitely isn’t an exhaustive list, here are six roles of a relational youth worker:
FRIEND :: present in their life
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (1 Thess 2:7-8)
There’s a lot happening in this scripture, but look to the words CARE, LOVED, SHARED, and LIVES. Friends are committed to one another. Our youth ministry programs are never about the programs, they are about making connections with people.
PARENT :: sympathetic for their growth
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
A parent is willing to take on pain for the gain of their kids. Parents are concerned about the health and growth of their kids. They make sacrifices to ensure the best possible environment for thei children.
LEADER :: vision for their future
Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18, KJV)
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity… (Hebrews 6:1)
It’s not enough to be WITH students and to really WANT them to grow. We must also lead. Leadership means seeing a PATH for their future growth and never giving up on their POTENTIAL to become something great.
SHEPHERD :: passionate for their needs
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)
Shepherds are like small business owners … they are fully focused and invested. They authentically care about the needs of their students because thy care.
DEAN :: compassionate for their correction
Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. (Titus 2:6)
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2-3)
We need to discipline the people we are discipling. We need to be ready to correct and rebuke…and to encourage. We must do these things carefully and with great patience. Impulsive flashes of anger doesn’t count as discipline. Discipline is self controlled.
DISCIPLE :: authentic follower of Jesus
The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the law did not know me; the leaders rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal. (Jeremiah 2:8)
Nothing we do in ministry is worth it if we aren’t connected to the Creator of the universe. We must continually be looking for God, knowing him deeply, following him diligently, and speaking his truth.
What about you, what do you think is missing from this list? What is another role of a relational youth worker? Drop a note in the comments below.