Every now and then I like to give a little air time to some up and coming youth workers and writers. (If that is you, let me know when you would like some space as well) Austin is an incredibly godly young man who is sold out to Jesus and his students. I have had the pleasure of watching him develop into quite the youth worker. Here is another guest post by Austin Penn. Enjoy!
As a professional laborer for the Kingdom I find this to be the single hardest thing for us to do successfully. Being vulnerable is hard, especially when you are given positional authority. You are the youth worker, and whether you like it or not you are viewed and kept to a higher standard. Welcome to the world of perfectionism.
This is how our world is built. You do well, you get a bonus or raise. (In most jobs, not necessarily youth ministry) You fail, you get punished or fired. This breeds perfectionism. Now, I'm not suggesting that we should not strive to make ourselves better, but I am suggesting that we live in to the authenticity of who we wholly are.
The world of perfectionism also gives us the necessity to put on masks. (Because we aren't perfect, but we have to look perfect) Here are some masks: the Sunday morning/Wednesday night mask, the staff meeting mask, the parent meeting mask, and many more. If we are honest, we have all put on one if not all of these masks. We put masks on for a lot of reasons: our safety, the church's perception, to appease the congregants, staff, parent, and etc.
The challenge is to not do this. The challenge is to live authentically. To live a life that is un-compartmentalized. This is scary, this is hard, and fights every single human inclination of self-protection that we have. However, it is the most beneficial thing you can do for those around you.
"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Living authentically means letting your heart speak. It means sharing the tough stuff with people, it means getting over the top excited about the small wins in youth ministry, and it means being weird and awkward sometimes. It means putting honesty above job security. It means putting fear aside and actually believing that we have a "spirit of power and not timidity."
In my ministry context, our mission is to "create B.R.A.V.E. students." The A stands for authentic, because we believe it is one of the 5 core things every student needs to learn. We believe that our students will learn so much more from who we are than anything we will ever teach them. We want them to know that they can come to us at any time in any setting and they will get us, and not a masked version of ourselves.
Don't be perfect, be authentic.
Grace and Peace, Austin
Austin Penn is the Director of Student Ministries at Countryside Covenant Church in McPherson, Kansas. Austin is a graduate of Central Christian College with a Bachelor’s Degree in student ministry. While at Central, Austin played for the baseball team, was the Student Body Chaplain and met his beautiful wife Stevie. He is passionate about young people, and he longs to see them come to know and love Jesus!