A Youth Worker’s Reflection on Thankfulness


By Shawn Kiger

PrintSometimes as a youth worker I get discouraged. I wonder if what I do makes a difference. After a small group with high school guys, I wonder if they have learned anything from their years of being in youth group. Did God really know what he was doing when he called me into youth ministry?

I’m sure we have all felt that way at some point; but as we start to draw near to Thanksgiving, I think it’s important to take a few minutes and remember all the things we’re thankful for about this calling we have of working with teenagers. So here are a few things I am thankful for:

  • I am thankful that I get to work with an age group that believes anything is possible and feels free to dream big.  Sure, turning our Sanctuary into a full-time homeless shelter and putting a pool into the fellowship hall would be a difficult task and a little unrealistic, but I love that they can dream!
  • I am thankful that hanging out playing basketball with a teenager counts as work.
  • I am thankful for the many volunteers who give up their time to love teenagers.
  • I am thankful that I work in a church that values family and gives me the flexibility to go to a pre-school field trip with my daughter.
  • I am thankful for the long-term relationships that started when they were teenagers and have continued into adulthood.
  • I love to see a student begin to own his or her own faith and am thankful for every time I’ve been given the gift of seeing that.
  • I am thankful that I work in a church that values my input in all aspects of the church, not just the youth ministry.
  • I am thankful that my job enables me to travel and meet people through mission trips that I would not normally get to meet.
  • I enjoy being around my tribe of other youth workers at training events and conferences.

This is just a short list of some of the things I’m thankful for. There are many more. This job and calling can be difficult and frustrating. Sixth grade boys can be loud and annoying, and I wonder at times if all the hard work is worth it.

Our calling can also be a thankless job. We pour our lives into students, and they rarely have the maturity to thank us. So, if no one has thanked you for what you do recently, allow me to do so: Thank you for sharing your faith and walking alongside students during the most important age of their faith development.

I encourage you to take a few moments to think about all of the good things about this role. It sure makes me thankful that God chose me to be in youth ministry! What are you thankful for?