Do you want to improve the relationship you have with your diocesan director of youth ministry? Over the past 22 years I have had the privilege of hearing from both parish youth ministers and from diocesan directors of youth ministry about strained relationships and a desire to work together. You might be thinking that you don’t need to work together because ministry is going well at your parish. The reality is that there are a lot of blessings that you may be missing out on if you choose to go it alone. Here are 3 things that I have consistently heard from the field that you want to make sure you steer clear of. This is part one of this blog – my follow up blog will be (3 Things That Diocesan Directors Do That Drive Youth Minister’s Crazy)
3 Things That Youth Ministers Do That Drive A Diocesan Director of Youth Ministry Crazy!
1. A Lack of Humility - Let’s face it – your Bishop hired the Diocesan Director of Youth Ministry to support you and advocate for youth ministry in your diocese. If you don’t respond to emails, letters and phone calls – it shows a potential lack of humility. Be sincere in your response and have an open heart to work together. If what you are doing is working for your parish – humbly share it with others. If you receive criticism be open and pray about it. There might just be something you need to work on. Life Teen gets a question mark with some diocesan directors of youth ministry because of a “better than thou” attitude of local youth ministers. Remember we are about building up the kingdom of God not the kingdom of Life Teen.
“Penetrate deeply and sanctify your environment by conformity of your life, by your friendship, by your love, by your life totally given to the service of others. Like Jesus, by a life so fully mixed with others that you may become one of them, wanting only to be in their midst like yeast that loses itself in the dough in order to make it rise” – Little Sister Madeline who founded the Little Sisters of Jesus
2. Not Being Loyal - Many of us are die-hard fans of some sports team. What if we had the same loyalty to those we work along side in the Church? I often hear that relationships are strained because people are talking about each other behind their backs. In the “instant communication” age we are in – are we so naive to believe that what we say does not get back to the other person? We need to be careful to not judge people working at our parish or diocese and do all we can to be loyal supporters of the efforts coming forth for teens. If someone wants to get into a negative conversation try to turn the conversation to the positive. More than likely this will give the other person a new perspective, or at a minimum have them cease the negativity. One thing you can do to support your diocesan director of youth ministry is to affirm them and offer to help them as needed. Sometimes the best relationships develop when we simply show up and serve without any need to be ministering up front. Saints become saints by being loyal to the Church!
“Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people’s, if we are always criticizing trivial actions – which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through our ignorance of their motives.” - Saint Teresa
3. Not Hustling - Another way we cause frustration is by not attending diocesan meetings with other youth ministers. Most diocesan directors know you have a full schedule and may not be able to attend every meeting, but an effort to communicate and to attend a majority of meeting or trainings goes a long way in strengthening our relationships and not projecting an air that you “have it all together” and don’t need help. The other big area of hustle is following through on commitments you make to promote diocesan, national and world youth events. If you say you are going to bring teens, then a strong follow through is needed. You know the feeling leaving a Core meeting where you asked the Core to go ask teens to attend the upcoming retreat. You know how hard it is to hear them later say they failed to follow through. Be known as someone who hustles and follows through. Most Diocesan Directors easily accept less than stellar results if they know you tried hard.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” - Francis of Assisi
If you already have a great relationship with your diocese staff be a bridge to other youth ministers in your area. If you struggle with your relationship with the diocese staff take these 3 steps to improve the situation. 1. Pray for them – prayer works and it is harder to remain disconnected to those we are praying for. 2. Communicate – call them or send them an email updating them on ministry at your parish and offer them your help and desire to work together. 3. Plan to attend the next gathering that the diocese is having for youth ministers – simply show up and you will be amazed at how many other ministers are experiencing many of the same things at their parishes.