In the western films I remember watching as a child there was always a mule. Stubborn and faithful to the hero the mule was a lovable sidekick, at least in my 10 year old imagination it was. As I got older though I discovered that a mule is infertile and will never breed a new generation. Unlike a donkey. That’s really sad, doing all that faithful work but when the end comes, that’s exactly it. The End.
So why am I writing about mules and donkeys in this blog?
I have committed to nurturing and supporting the next generation of Christian youth workers. For years I have loved helping teenagers who come along to a youth club have a great time and experience life in all its’ fullness. Some grow into discovering that life is rooted in Jesus, some don’t. Then some become young leaders, or rookies as I called them, and then grow into adult volunteers. As the years have passed I can also look around Scotland and see Christian youth workers that I helped develop. What a privilege. Now in my youthwork training business www.youthworkjourneys.com I help leaders grow their own leaders. Again, what a privilege, to be a donkey not a mule!
Mules are one-generational. Donkeys are not. Mules do good work, maybe even great work but it ends with them. Donkeys can birth the next generation.
Sadly I know too many Christian youthworkers who are mules not donkeys. They do good, even great, work but when they move on for whatever reason all that work ends with them. I like Reign Ministries because they embody this desire to grow new generations of Christian youth work leaders.
Here are 10 ways to be a donkey not a mule in youth work:
Intentionally develop leadership into every activity, get used to sharing leadership with young people
Delegate responsibility and support through mistakes
Celebrate successes, even small ones
Young people lead as they have been led so make sure your actions support your words
Build young people in leadership groups that will become their community, don’t just find one leader
Pray for God to bless your young people through you.
Not every young person develops at the same pace, so affirm leadership on ability and character not age
Recognise that youthwork has seasons. Sometimes you will go deeper with a few, equipping them to reach out widely to many. The challenge is doing both at the same time!
Develop leadership around the gifts of young people not just to repeat existing leadership roles
Organise an inspiring annual training event that will become a rite of passage for the young people
Lastly, some youth workers might resist the idea of being a donkey. It’s maybe not too flattering an image. Look at the donkey on Palm Sunday though; like every donkey it was marked by a cross, humbly playing the role Jesus requested among the crowds. That sounds good enough for me.
Paul Beautyman is an ordained Church of Scotland minister and has been training and doing local youth ministry for almost 30 years. He has a strong track record of raising up young leaders and training them in how to lead, disciple and influence others. He is currently working on his PhD on how to support Christian youth leaders. His business www.youthworkjourneys.com offers training, mentoring, support and programmes to help churches empower their own young people, and Reign Ministries would encourage all youth workers and churches to consider how they could benefit from connecting with Paul.
If you are interested in finding out more about Reign Ministries Degree Program click below for a prospectus and FREE bar of Chocolate!
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