This last week I was with some fellow youth workers and we started sharing stories about times we should have, or at least could have been fired. In fact, at every youth worker gathering I have been to, this has been our go to ice breaker question. "When was a time you should have been fired."
But what was interesting about this conversation was not the silly stories about all the dumb things we have done throughout our ministry careers, but the reasons why we dodged the bullet, avoided the ax. And the common denominator was simply the amount of good will you have built up with parents or with your boss.
So, if you don't want to be fired anytime soon for some dumb thing in your future, then now is the time to put some money in the bank and start building up your cash reserves of good will. Here are three really easy ways:
1) Communicate with your parents. This seems like a no brainer, but I am horrified by the lack of communication that happens between youth workers and parent. Communicate everything, over communicate. Let them know what is going on, what you are teaching on, when the next event is and how to participate. But even more than communicating about logistics, communicate your love and care for their specific kid. Someone who loves my kid gets a huge place in my heart. Let parents know specific reasons you love their specific kids.
2) Be a blessing to your supervisor. We all have bosses. And for some reason, most people have some gripe against their boss. It is unfortunately the way of the world. We all hate the man for some reason. Well, you have to own that and kill it ASAP. Your job is to be a blessing. Whatever your boss wants you to do, whatever direction they want to go, your job is to champion that. Defend them in public and private, affirm them in public, and be a friend to them in private. Try asking them a question or asking them about their hopes and dreams of ministry. You know it works with students, try it with your supervisor and watch the good will grow.
3) Become best friends with your sword. We all screw up. We all make mistakes. Most of them are miscommunications between us and other people. Sometimes accidents happen, things break, people cry. This is all normal when you work with people. But the difference between those who survive these skirmishes and those who get the door, is one swings the sword, and the other falls on it. I know that you want to swing it and defend yourself, your ministry, your choice. But this never ends well. You did something wrong, and you must own it. Humility actually works. Especially in conflict and even more so with broken things. I suggest giving it a try and come to love the feeling of dying to yourself and falling on your sword.
When you do these three things, it is like putting thousands and thousands of dollars in a high yield account. Get some years under your belt communicating with parents, blessing your supervisor, and never tire of falling on your sword, then you will have the money in the bank for the next time you really screw the pooch. And mark my words, that next time is around the corner for all of us.
May you embrace your calling to love and serve others, to be a blessing and to be known by your humility. And may you too dodge the bullet the next time you make a choice or say something that wasn't fully though out. :)