Hayley James

sustaining youth workers - permission to fail

by mjjames20/03/2010

Today I've been to Mosaic '10 a youth work conference for those in the Greater Manchester area. It was a great day, with some excellent seminars. In our session on making disciples, we talked about giving young people permission to fail, so that they are not afraid to try new things and step out in faith. This idea 'permission to fail' is a familar one to me, and talking about it again today prompted me to write a post on it for this series.

As youth workers, employed (either as staff members of volunteers) by churches and Christian organisations, we can have immense pressures upon us to get things right and have things sorted all of the time. These pressures can come from ourselves and the expectations we have for our work, or from external sources and their expectaions of our ministries. And they can be huge, expecting us never to fail, always be perfect and have everything right in all that we do.

This can be paralysing.

However, in order for us to be effective and to last the distance in youth work/ministry we need to give ourselves permission to fail.

In an article written for Youthwork magazine Mike Pilavachi talks about the need to fail at least 80% of the time. He states that if we are not failing, we are not risking, and that if we are not risking we are not stepping outside of our comfort zones, and therefore exploring the full potential of what our ministry could be.

If we don't give ourselves permission and space to fail, we will not risk, because we will be too afraid of getting things wrong and messing up. If we don't take risks, then we might never reach the place that God has planned for our work and our lives.

It is easier to stay in our comfort zones, because then at least we don't get dissappointed, we don't get frustrated and we don't have to deal with doing stuff wrong, plus its comfortable. However I don't want to be the type of person that settles for the good ,when I know there is great still to come. I believe that if we are going to stay alive, passionate and on fire in this work we need to be risk takers and to get to a place where we can do that, we need to recognise that will get things wrong, we will mess up, but that its ok to do so.

And don't forget we model to our young people what it means to be a follower of Christ... do we want them to be bound by fear... or do we want them to be all God wants them to be? Sometimes we need to practise what we preach and have the grace for ourselves that so readily comes for the young people we serve.

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Youth Work

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