Through a glass darkly

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Corinthians 13:12)KJV

Monday, December 19, 2005

On Being a Middle Aged Youth Worker

One of my friends emailed me this link, Internetmonk authored this piece on being middle aged. While it is written from a man's perspective and some of doesn't really apply to my life -he was a little too morose about getting old , his comments about being a 40-something youth worker are on target. I especially liked the line about being at the top of his game preaching but faced with an audience that wants to hear the 23 year old with a guitar and one sermon.
It is kinda frustrating that teenagers do not appreciate the middle aged person's life experience and instead prefer whoever is "new", as if the novelty of their words imparts the greater wisdom. This view was even shared by a twenty-something youth pastor I knew. In his book, I was too old to work with students at 31 years of age; when I was 35, he insisted I had "nothing" to offer them. (He later changed his tune when he himself crossed the magic age of 30). Regardless, I don't pay attention to those pronouncements. I may not jump into a game of Bombardment anymore but I have so much more to offer than that. The students who want the superficial stuff aren't going to come talk to me anyway (although they are quite shocked to discover that I do know about their culture), the ones that are serious about their faith do come around. Still, it is amusing when they first try to get an answer out of the young, "cool" worker who then refers the student to me anyway.
I guess my perspective on the whole issue comes from the fact that I work with youth, not to serve them, but to serve Christ. Sure, I'd like to have a twenty-something body again and go sledding down the hill next month at Winter Camp but let me keep the forty-something mind.


  • At Tue Dec 20, 03:27:00 PM PST , Blogger Susan said...

    A college student once explained to me that she believes teenagers are taught by example that adolescence is supposed to be a prolonged be prolonged as long as possible. Nobody wants to grow up, and nobody wants to be reminded how rediculous it looks to be 30 or 40 and act like a 16 year old. So once you pass 30 your "career" is over as a youth leader, because you throw off the groove.

    My response? "Dude! Like, whatever!"

  • At Tue Jan 24, 04:19:00 PM PST , Blogger The Asbell Family said...

    We worked with youth quite a lot in the last 18 years. We have never felt out of place or too old but we did notice the shallower kids tried to avoid being around the adults by sneaking off. The sincere teens wanted to hear what we had to say and were very receptive. They asked some very thought provoking questions. Because we have a teen son now, we are reading "Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens" by Paul Tripp. We have found it has some excellent suggestions that work not only with parents but also with anyone who has to deal with teens. We highly recommend it.


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