From training to first post

I’ve been invited to deliver a seminar for a bunch of graduating youth workers looking at the move from training to first job in a Church or Christian organisation. My brief is to explore the perils and opportunities, the funny and the absurd, the useful and the watch-out-fors …. but above all to help students be effectively and realistically equipped for their first professional ministry role.
So *adopting Yoda voice*, mmm Wisdom I seek friends?
It’d be good to have some thoughts and gleaned wisdom from those who have joined a Church straight from training. What didn’t you know? What assumptions had you made?
What would you do differently? What was the difference between ‘placement’ role and employed role? Muchos gracias
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I have turned on the anti-cynicism filter on the comment moderator so please be aware that your keyboard will melt if you cross level 2 on the virtual cynic gauge.

13 Replies to “From training to first post”

  1. Your boss won’t always be right but treat her/him as if he/she is for the first few weeks at least.
    Make friends with adults.
    Use as many opportunities as you can get to engage with the community. Fetch a paper don’t have it delivered. Find a ‘local’ and become a regular.
    Find what it is that depresses you if you compromise on it and don’t compromise on it. For me it was food quality.
    Learn filing and record keeping. Make a contemporaneous note if something has gone pear-shaped.

  2. I think the big jumps will be
    – from 13 hours a week to seemingly limitless hours so I would say set yourself a vision with some clear goals and be sure to preserve your off duty hours.
    – from being at college with your mates to being on your own so be sure to network with other youthworkers and keep in touch with friends as well as finding something local that’s not work where you can meet people. Get yourself a mentor.
    – from being in training to being exepected to KNOW so continue to learn and reflect and accept that you will get it wrong sometimes so admit it when you do.
    General stuff to do with being in a new place – listen to the history and understand what has happened in the past. Accept that people will sometimes say “we tried that before and it didn’t work then so it won’t work now”. They will not always be right but they might be!
    Ok before this turns into a post on it’s own… my final piece of advice.
    PRAY and ENJOY IT!

  3. what support structures did you value during your placement and time at college? will these be in place when you start your new job? if not, how can you find them?
    remember you’re not called to change the world all by yourself – find ‘friends of youth work’, advocates, people who will fight your corner.
    trust God

  4. for me it was the “non youth work” bits that caused problem:
    Definately find ways of making adult friends and ways of mixing with the rest of the church not just the teenagers.
    Work out how to deal with/avoid loneliness!
    Protect your time off.
    Don’t neglect your own spiritual life, find time to read, relax and worship – maybe take days off to prey/retreat sometimes.
    Find someone to be accountable to or who you can talk to and will check you are OK – not your Boss ideally!
    Enjoy it and love it, let the kids know how valuable they are to you. Be honest with them when you struggle.

  5. All excellent advice. But to be honest the only big leap between college & real life is the hours (and sometimes not even that). Depending on the college, most placements have probably been treating you like ‘the expert’ instead of ‘the student’ for 2-3 years anyway.
    I think the big issue for students is not what full-time ministry will look like, but do they really want to do it? Thinking back to my old student group, only half of us went on into full-time youth ministry, the rest either left the profession or went to work for non-church organisations.
    Okay, I think I’ve just hit cynicism level 5, so lets find some positives:
    I think, if I were doing that seminar, I’d want to start by being enthusiastic about the positives that ministry has to offer, whilst acknowledging the bad stuff. Then maybe open it up by asking the students to look at the pressures they’ve already experienced and then explore some coping mechanisms. Round off again with an acknowledgement of the pressures, but a reminder of the joys.

  6. 1. Find friends
    2. TAKE a day off! Don’t make excuses not to!
    3. Eat proper meals.
    4. Make time for yourself too.
    5. Love the kids.
    6. Ask others for help.
    7. Delegate!
    8. Don’t accept responsibility for EVERYTHING!
    9. Don’t base your self worth on the success of your ministry.
    10. Don’t dwell on problems! Move on!
    11. Spend time in Word and Prayer!
    12. Don’t becoem emotionally attatched to every situation.
    13. Feed back properly to your supervisor. Make the most of him / her.
    14. ENJOY!
    15. HAVE FUN!

  7. Ok, just put my own filter on as well, after witing th post beofre putting it up here. Just some quic ideas and thoghts:
    1: Ensure relaxation time away from job, hobby, local pub, outside interests.
    2: ensure trustworthy accountability, probably outside e area, always useful to have someone to chat over issues with, who is outside of the situation.
    3: Remember how yu felt during training, I always remebered how I felt as I trained, and learnt so much as I didn’t want others to feel some of those feings.
    4: spend time with God, and don’t allow yourself to be made to feel bad for doing this. Some will suggest it is outside of the job, but for me it is central.
    5: enjoy it, if youdon’t then your in the wrong place, I would suggest.
    6: love those young people, build those relationships, remember you may be the only one they trust, and the only one they can turn too sometimes.
    7: Get some admin, not all youthworkers make good admins, and that is an important aprt of the job, even if the person needs some payment some how, chocolate always goes well.
    8: be strict about your day off, you need to have a break, and need to have it away from th young people you are working with, not always easy, especially wen you work in the community you live in, but try.
    9: Be aware, contradiction to previous one coming up, that you are never off duty. You will meet youngpeople in all places, at all times, so don’t be suprised.
    10: link up with ohter youth workers, this will be envaluable to you,as they will understand your issues, where others who you may talk too certainly will not.
    11: learn diplomacy, you will need this with your manager, other adults, the young people, infact all those who have expectations from you. so ask god for wisdom, and diplomacy.
    think that’s it for moment, if more then back later.

  8. I found a large shift in my thinking, in that all my work was now my responsibility, not in a ‘I had to do everything sense’ or even in a ‘oh, I’m the one who goes to steering group if it screws up’ but in a ‘these kids have been entrusted to me’ way. That hit me a bit.

  9. Remember Timothy, Elihu and countless other youngsters that had to speak in a challenging way to their elders. Be respectful but don’t stop speaking up for young people.

  10. I think one thing has been missed – vet your potential ’employer’- it’s not an easy thing to be strict about as it is also ‘The Church’ but if they seem to say one thing about their vision and behave/speak in another way – their may be conflict within that church. So then ask yourself; Do I want/can I cope with that?
    Whilst some may initially offer a package – what do you do if they change that?
    At the bottom of this is that ‘their’ interview process is also your opportunity to meet and evaluate your potential future employer – think and prayer through the process even to the point of being able to say that they are not the ones (for whatever reason) for you…

  11. One afternoon, I was in the backyard hanging the laundry when an old, tired-looking dog wandered into the yard. I could tell from his collar and well-fed belly that he had a home. But when I walked into the house, he followed me, sauntered down the hall and fell asleep in a corner. An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out. The next day he was back. He resumed his position in the hallway and slept for an hour.
    This continued for several weeks. Curious, I pinned a note to his collar: “Every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap. ”
    The next day he arrived with a different note pinned to his collar: “He lives in a home with ten children – he’s trying to catch up on his sleep.”
    I cried from laughter
    Sorry, if not left a message on Rules.

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