We've all been there at one time or another. The scenario might go something like this:
Waking up late, we remember we're supposed to meet a friend for coffee. So we pick something up off the floor, cover our "bed head" with a baseball cap and charge out the door. Hurrying into the coffee shop, our eyes lock with the parent of one of our teens. Dressed in his business suit and ready for the day, he couldn't stand in greater contrast to our mentality of: "Well, I've got to wear something more than boxers if I'm leaving my apartment; and this is my cleanest pair of sweats."
Embarrassed, we greet him hastily and politely excuse ourselves to go sit with our friend. The rest of the day is spent kicking ourselves, knowing the parent had to be thinking, "I entrust my kid to you every week?"
While he may have just caught us on a bad day, it's still true that every interaction we have with adults either increase or decrease their confidence in us and in our ministry.A Broader Calling
Quite honestly, most of us don't enter youth ministry because we want to work with adults, but with kids. That's who we're called to serve; therefore, that's who we focus on. If we've been doing this for any amount of time, however, we quickly come to realize the most successful youth ministry has the support and involvement of adults.
In Young Life, we don't take ourselves too seriously; but we take our calling very seriously. If we want adults to take our ministry seriously as well, we must embody a spirit of excellence because Jesus is excellent. While a mindset of professionalism may not come naturally to us, we must strive to be men and women who model integrity, dependability and character. Mike O'Leary, Young Life Vice President of Special Projects, calls professionalism, "our ministry to adults."
Professionalism, then, is not a means to an end. It is another opportunity for us to show Christ—by serving adults. Part of the tension may arise out of our view of our role. Do we see ourselves primarily as youth workers, or do we see ourselves as servants to everyone God places in our path? Ultimately, how we carry ourselves says a lot about our view of what we do; and it reflects our view of the God who has entrusted us with such a high privilege as sharing Christ with kids. There are five main categories we can focus on when it comes to raising the bar on professionalism.AppearanceDress
: Funny, but true—one of the most interesting decisions leaders face daily is what to wear. The day may offer opportunities to meet with pastors, businessmen, middle-school kids, parents, school officials, high-school kids and college leaders. We walk into homes, schools, churches, businesses, restaurants and gyms. How can we "become all things to all men" even in regard to dress?
This presents a unique challenge: We want leaders to be flexible but not such "cultural chameleons" that they cannot be themselves. How do we dress when meeting with a businessperson, without stifling the Young Life personality in a suit?