How do you know when to stop doing youth work?

I was asked the question recently,
“How do you know when it is time to stop doing Youth Work?” This definitely got me thinking, especially as I’ve been working with young people for 20 years now.
I definitely don’t agree with any “Sell by date” type theories (young people only have two catergories for adults anyway i.e “old” and “reaalllllyyy old!” ….. the latter being about 36 and over!) and I know some fantastic youth leaders who are well past retirement age. I reckon experience counts for a lot and the further removed we are from youth culture(s) the more we are forced to ask and listen … which is a good thing!
So ….it’s open to discussion but my working answer at the moment is. It’s time to stop doing youth work if you no longer like/love young people but other than that the role, very much, stays open!
I guess it’s a bit like the question, “When it’s time to stop being a Rock band?” and no-one is suggesting that that is time boundaried!
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5 Replies to “How do you know when to stop doing youth work?”

  1. I remember my old youth leader’s wife telling me that she once made the mistake of asking a bunch of junior youth club kids how old they thought she was. ’45..?’ they guessed. She was 23! (and a babe).
    Every now and then, if I want a laugh, I ask my youth groups the same question. Sadly, I’m now steadily growing towards the age they think I am 🙁

  2. I think from what I have seen that you only become to old for youth work if either, you allow it to happen and you just stopping getting the kicks out of it, but it can also come about by spending a length of time away at which point the youth cultures (trying not to start another debate on what that means) change and getting back into it become much harder, it can be a bit like playing catch up when your in an astra and they’ve got a Ferrari!

  3. the best youth workers i know are older. i’ve only been doing this youth thing for 19 years so i don’t have a world of experience yet but it seems to me that everything except the energy level gets easier as i grow older. counseling kids and parents has gotten a world easier since getting older. focusing on what I’m convinced is really important to CHRIST has become easier. etc., etc. the only thing that hasn’t become easier over time is all-nighters. those are pretty rough now.

  4. I agree whole heartedly with the comments about youthwork and age – definately not upper limit.
    I’m not so sure about rock stars – a fixed age of 55 would save our ears from more Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Rolling Stones, Quo and even Cliff – definately a good thing in my book!

  5. I am 46 years old and I love working with youth more now than I used to. I believe the key is love, respect, and passion to see people with much more energy than me become apprentices of Jesus.
    This generation is a very spiritually hungry generation and they respond well to authentic Christ-following adults who teach them straight up and don’t try to sugar up or goofy up the Word of God.

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