But even with the academically correct degrees, and years of experience, there was so much I was unprepared for. I wouldn’t have made it without the help of a couple veteran youth ministers (16, and 20, youth ministry years, respectively) in the area, who received my panicked visits and calls with the greatest of patience, never laughing at me once. They led me to resources that made a big difference in how prepared I felt for the various challenges that come with the territory. And they encouraged me to believe in myself more than I was willing to do.
My most immediate problem at the start, after being caught off guard a couple times, was feeling like there wasn’t enough time to learn what I needed to… there would never be enough time… there would always be something unanticipated… the pressure to know… to learn… where do I find it?… when will I learn it?!… what if it doesn’t work???… I can’t take this anymore!!! Pathetic, wasn’t I? And they never laughed once. At least not to my face. But yes, I was wired pretty tight at the start. Didn’t need to be. The indulgence of fear (of what, anyway?) just made it so much more difficult to relax and allow myself to learn what I needed to. Even if you have a degree specifically targeted at youth ministry, you still are not going to remember everything you heard in lectures. You will have to refer back. In other words, you don’t know everything. Get comfortable with that reality and you can face your biggest challenges with calm.
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