Relationships are not a "Zero Sum Game"

Embrace this dated video, so you can make a giant leap forward in your relational investments and personal maturity.  :)

Wow, that was less compelling then I thought it would be.  Who really cares about game theory and market strategy, especially on a youth ministry blog.  Great point!!  Here is why this matters:

MOST YOUTH WORKERS SEE THEIR RELATIONSHIPS WITH STUDENTS AS A ZERO SUM GAME.

This is what I mean by that:

Every student you work with has 100 pennies to dole out to the people in their life for relationship.  As a youth worker you want to be in relationship with students, and even more, you want a place of influence with them.  The best way to get to have influence in their life is to collect more and more pennies.  When you have 30 pennies, instead of one, then you have a powerful place in their life.  (Of course you are noble in your intentions and your influence is for the Kingdom of God.) :)

In a Zero Sum Game world view, the youth worker can only gain influence in the life of the student by collecting pennies, which seems normal and natural.  But in this world view you are stealing pennies from other relationships in order to gain in your influence.  

I watch many youth workers and I sense this battle in my self as well, subtly taking pennies away from other people of influence in their life, for my own gain.  Subtly and often not subtly, eroding confidence in their parents, teachers, coaches, other youth workers and the church, all for the sake of increasing your influence in their life. 

In the short term, this feels great and makes you / us feel so important.  But in the long run we have simply eroded relationships with other important people in their life.  And let's be honest, our moment of influence in the life of a student is only a moment.   When they move on, you move on, or they simply graduate, these students are left with less stable relationships in their life, especially others who can have Christian influence in their life.

RELATIONSHIPS ARE ACTUALLY NOT A ZERO SUM GAME!

Think back over the course of your faith development.  Begin to list all the adults who have influenced you in your faith and spiritual development.  There are so many.  Each and every one of them were faithful for the moment you did life together.  

As maturing youth workers, we must simply be generous with our love and affection towards our students.  We MUST find joy in the many adult influencers in the lives of our students.  Instead of stealing pennies, we actually are making investments in the life of our students by adding more and more pennies to their pile.  It is the immatue youth worker who, in their inseccurity cuts the legs off of other influences for their own gain.  But this is not beneifical in the long run.  

As ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we generously give our lives to students and add to the good work that God is already doing and will continue to do in them long after we are gone!

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed,Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building."

MAY THIS BECOME OUR PERSPECTIVE SO THAT OUR ENERGY IS USED TO PLANT AND WATER AND NOT CUTTING THE LEGS OUT OF THOS WHO HAVE COME BEFORE US OR WILL DO MINISTRY AFTER US!    I plant, you water, but it is God who causes faith to grow!