Hayley James

sustaining youth workers - good support networks

by mjjames15/03/2010

We all encounter situations which impact us mentally and spiritually and sometimes break our hearts. Whether that be through personal circumstances, work situations or supporting young people through the things they face.

Life is messy and complicated, and when we work with people that have messy and complicated lives we can end up in a spaghetti tangle at times.

As people workers we have to be prepared for when these eventualities come around. At times we are all going to need someone to turn too and support in difficult situations. At times we will just need to chat and pray, at others we will need to know the managerial structures and protocols to respond appropriately to an issue or event.

Difficult situations can be the making or breaking of youth workers so its important before anything happens to put in good structural support systems. Place around yourself a pastoral team who will pray for you and talk through things with you, on a spiritual and personal level. Know to whom you are responsible and to whom you report concerns. So that when you are unsure about appropriate responses there is someone you can turn too. Also build an effective team to work with so that you can share the pastoral care for the young people you serve.

Often youth workers can be seen as loan rangers, taking isolated responsibility for a whole “flock” but remember youth workers are not called to work alone. We are called to be part of a community, and to be supported within that. Take responsibility for your own support if necessary, and ensure you take the time to work through your practice and the stuff you face in everyday life, so that your support doesn't end up being crisis management. And instead can be a helpful tool that enables growth in your ministry and provides an effective framework to deal with challenging situations.

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Youth Work

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