During Lent we are offering a weekly blog written by Pullen members about their passions. The phrase “Passion of Jesus” has been used in Christian history to refer to the suffering of Jesus from his entrance into Jerusalem until his crucifixion. This makes sense because one definition of the word “passion” is to suffer. Yet another meaning of the term in English is strength of feeling.
So each Monday in Lent, a Pullen person is sharing in blog form something about which she or he is passionate. It is our hope that reading about the deep commitments of other Pullenites will enrich our own passions and our experience of this holy season.
-The Education Council
Why I’m Passionate about being a Youth Leader
by: Bob Cato
Occasionally, the word “suffer” may describe how I feel when dealing with some youth. A lot of the time they ignore you (as should be expected), mainly because they are busy enjoying each other’s company. Almost all exhibit age-typical irresponsibility. Some youth are difficult to deal with. But overall, I have developed a “strength of feeling” for being a youth leader, for the youth themselves, and for:
- Trying to understand where & when I can be most effective. For example, most of the time there are a few youth that have a difficult time fitting in. I often spend more time talking with them, learning about them, trying to make them feel at ease. It is much more important to a youth to have a friend their age, but maybe I can motivate them to attend a little while longer, maybe long enough for them to make a youth friend.
- Hearing the youth express their “joys and concerns” at the beginning of the Wed. night youth meeting. It briefly opens a window into their lives and sometimes provides an indication of what a youth leader can do to help them or their families. Most of the time it is nice to hear that their biggest worry is homework or upcoming tests.
- Thinking of programs the youth will be interested in and will benefit from.
- Being in the quasi-parental role of a youth leader. The more time I spend with the youth, the more I care about them, despite the irritations. Youth leaders spend a lot of time with most of the youth: 1.5 hours a week for seven years, plus retreats, outings and summer camps. That is a lot of opportunity to develop a strong connection with most of them. I know I’ve made such a connection when I feel sadness and a loss when a youth inevitably ages out of the group and moves on. It is similar to what I experienced when my daughter left home to go to college. It is a good sadness.