Focussing on the good in our youthwork; despite culture of numbers and expectations

Because it’s more likely that we’ll be heard saying things like;

We’re not as big as _________ up the road?

Or…They get to pray with their group.. or..

We just can’t get our young people to go to soul survivor?

Or… We only have a few leaders..or..

It just feels like were just going through the motions..

One of my roles is to travel up and down the north of England, talk to youth leaders and project workers in a range of youth work situations. Sometimes it’s to deliver training, supervision or reflection.

A common thing that key youth workers and leaders do is talk down their youth group. Often using one or some of the statements above. Maybe it’s the British thing to talk ourselves down, maybe it’s the awkward thing of feeling like open youth clubs are in competition with the more programme/activity orientated youth ministry like groups.

But what if we started with the good stuff. Start with the positive.

What about asking the question;

What’s good about your youth work?

So, go on then. Forget the negative comparative talk. Talk up the positive. What is it that makes your youth club come alive? Where is it’s spark? What’s good?

Is it the conversations? The volunteers and their team work? That young people feel safe? That there is respect? That young people participate? … go on.. why not write down with your volunteers next time, all the good things about your youth work?

And build from there.

Sod that, why not ask the young people too?!

In a way it’s so easy to reflect on the negative to improve practice, and then dig ourselves into a spiral of looking only negatively. But what if instead we made a conscious effort to focus, identify and describe the good stuff. The gifts, the questions, the space, the interaction, the sense of home. Stuff that’s good. Stuff of value beyond the money.

And if we can’t spot the good and value it, who else will?

If we are able to value the good, the positive, and identify it, build on it, and develop community, then it’s more likely that young people will want to be part of what we do and are. Surely. And our work is with the specific young people we have, not the ones up the road. And so, what is the good about them?

Maybe asset based community work, needs good identifying youth practitioners too.

So..why not start with the good! It’s a tough gig at times working or volunteering with young people, so it’s worth celebrating and giving yourself space to recognise what’s good about it, what’s of value and be encouraged by the sometimes invisible yet meaningful impact that you may be having.

Is what you’re doing worthy, true and lovely? Then..

‘Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is praiseworthy.. think on these things’ (Philippians 4;8-9)

It’s not going to do any one any harm to focus on the good that is done.. take credit youth worker, volunteer, leader, for the immense good, often unnoticed that you do. And hold it’s value close, and share it amongst you. Treasure the good.

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