Wednesday, August 10, 2011

O is for Office

Often a person associates their office with a well organized area that has their computer, phone, paperwork, coffee mug, and pens and pencils.  It is the place where they get the majority of their work done.  This work is often uninterrupted.  This is not true of wherever my office is.  My office is full of interrupts and for the most part, I like the interruptions.  I find that true ministry is not within the programs or trips that I offer, but within the relationships I build with my youth. 

I have accomplished a lot of work in my office but most of the time it is when I am having conversations with youth and not computer work that I feel like I am accomplishing something.  I will drop everything when a youth comes into my office and needs to talk or to hang out.  I want to be there for them and I care more about them than I do whatever I am working on.  I can work on my computer in the office later or at home that night, but it is not every day that I youth comes to see me.
I had more youth in my office when I worked for the YMCA.  Since I had a program running every day, there was more opportunity for youth to come in.  Alicia would come and hang out in my office everyday afterschool.  She would come to talk about her day or just visit.  She would help me to work on programming things that I needed and helped me to plan trips.  Sometimes she would just come down to see me.  I would always stop whatever I was doing when she got there just to spend some time with her.  Sometimes I would work on office work while she worked on homework.  Often other youth would come in and out of the office, but Alicia would always come to see me.  We had a great relationship and she truly played a role in creating and participating in all the Middle School programs we ran at the YMCA.  It is youth like her that are the reasons that I work with youth. 
When I got to my current church, I got an office by the front door.  Every time someone would walk through the front door I could hear them and I would often watch to see who was there.  I always looked forward for one youth to walk through the door because she came to the church every day.  Ever since Chesson was in fourth grade she would come to see me.  Her mother works at the church so she would come down to my office often.  Chesson has always helped me with programming, from making decisions about things to setting up for lock ins and other events.  She has always impressed me with her love of Christ and her drive to help me provide spiritual programs to the youth of our church.  Chesson is now going into ninth grade and I still look forward to seeing that smiling face walk through the doors of my office.

There have been so many youth over the years that I have built relationships with.  If they get nothing more than the knowledge that Christ and I love them from my work with youth, then I have accomplished my job. 
If you work with youth, worry more about your relationship with them then the programs you run.  Let your programming, worship, trips, and social time revolve around the relationships you have with your youth.  In today’s society our youth are pulled in so many directions.  If you have a strong, trusting, open relationship with them, they will make your program a priority.  They will spend the time and energy on the things you offer not because they have too or are told too, but because they want to.  God gave you a gift to work with youth, use it to build your relationship stronger with him and stronger with your youth.

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