The past few months I have attended numerous youth leader gatherings and inevitably fall to the temptation to compare myself to those around me. I look at some of my peers and think “they look like a youth leader, they have the look that teens will think is cool.”
I know I’m not supposed to compare, but being a Catholic youth leader can be one of the most inadequacy inducing roles you can ever take on in life. It brings out the brightest talents and the darkest most insecure parts in the best of us. It’s for that very reason that I see a new crop of youth leaders who totally look the part, but struggle playing the part. In other words they are being the noun (looking like a youth leader) but not the verb (doing what youth leaders do).
Inevitably, all of us who work with the young Church know that it is far more important to do what youth leaders do than to merely look like a youth leader. From my perspective here is what youth leaders do:
They spend time with teens
They frequent the Sacraments
They reach out to teens where they are
They form disciple relationships with young people
They work as hard on their own faith as they ask the teens to work
They never give up on a teen
They openly advocate for teens in their parishes
They constantly invite teens to come along on the journey
and basically do anything even if it makes them look foolish to help a young person have an encounter with Christ.
Question is – Are you more focused on looking like a youth leader or acting like one?