Be You!


By Mark Oestreicher

Misty Forest TrailYouth workers who pretend that they have the Christian life all figured out are boring! Let’s face it, none of us want to follow someone who thinks they have anything all figured out; we want to learn from people who are on the same journey we’re on, a journey of messiness and incompleteness, of bumps and turns and twists and surprises. In short, we want to learn from people who live with honesty–people who live out the truth of their own journey in front of us.

For you to be a youth worker who lives with honesty, and for me to be a youth worker who lives with honesty, we have to live, speak and act boldly–whether that means a boldness of knowing or a boldness of unknowing. See, honesty and passion are closely linked. And when I live in truth (the truth of my real story with God), I live a passionate life, and honesty naturally leaks out in my interactions with students. When I do this, I become more “attractive” to real students (unfortunately, not more physically attractive!). The truth of Jesus alive in my life is attractive!.

I can’t stand it when I see youth workers trying to be hip, trying to be cool, so students will like them. And part of why this bugs me so much is that I used to be like that: I tried so hard to be the kind of cool adult I thought teenagers wanted.

But somewhere along the road of youth ministry, I discovered that my uniquenesses–the things about me that make me different than you–are a massive strength in my ability to connect with teenagers. And I saw this in other effective youth workers as well.

As you ramp up face-time with teenagers over the summer—particularly at camps and missions trips and other summer programming—commit to embracing your uniqueness; and commit to being your honest and authentic self, warts and all.