In a recent morning reading routine, I ran across this fantastic article “9 Agonizing Business Skills you Need to Grit Your Teeth and Learn” from Corey Eridon at Hubspot Inbound Hub. As I read it, I thought of youth ministry, the field that I primarily work in. Youth ministry requires a caring heart for youth, an ability to generate enthusiasm in youth, and a commitment teaching the Christian faith. But, to succeed in youth work, it takes more than that. Many young leaders think that if they just care for kids, have an upbeat personality, and present God’s truth that those will be enough to have a job in youth ministry. They soon find out differently.
Ministry is ultimately about getting things done and for most youth workers (many who have a “high I” personality) this can be problematic. We can promise the world, but fail to meet deadlines (often due to a long list of reasons and insecurities) and we end up limiting our potential to influence a community.
Jim Dekker is Associate Professor of Youth Ministry in the Center for Youth Ministry Studies and has been teaching there since 2002. Jim is a dear friend and we share a love of the outdoors and of laughter. He earned his B.Th in Pastoral Studies at Ontario Bible College (Tyndale College), his M.A. in Christian Education from Calvin Theological Seminary (Grand Rapids), and his Ph.D in Educational Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of numerous articles and book reviews and he enjoys camping, fishing, kayaking and sailing.
Jim’s expertise is in a wide array of topics that inform youth ministry. In this interview on the YS Roundtable, Jim tackles an under-discussed topic that silently confronts our ministries every day. When we can identify the systems in our community, locate others who can help us work within those systems, and then develop more effective strategies for youth ministry, we can see a higher level of effectiveness in our ministry. But, hey, Jim talks about this much more eloquently, so I’ll leave it up to him: