On an e-mail forum recently there has been a ‘useful’ discussion on the notion of what it means to be a ‘professional’ in the context of being a youth worker/minister. One of the observations made, reflecting on the current economic climate, was that it was so called ‘professionals’ that caused the problems. Is to be a ‘professional’ a good thing or a bad thing, is it contary to a calling, to being spirit led ….. or in harmony with it? (I have a colleague who prefers to talk about doing things excellently, which I like). This whole debate being very important for the UK context where we professionally train Christian youth workers who often serve as youth ministers for the Church.
Towards the end of thread, a colleague who I respect a great deal added this ….. :
Looking at the ‘roots’ of such things … from the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary, we find:
Main Entry: proÂ·fesÂ·sion
Etymology: Middle English professioun, from Anglo-French profession, from Late Latin & Latin; Late Latin profession-, professio, from Latin, public declaration, from profitÄ“ri
Date: 13th century
1: the act of taking the vows of a religious community
2: an act of openly declaring or publicly claiming a belief, faith, or opinion : protestation
3: an avowed religious faith
4 a: a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long and intensive academic preparation b: a principal calling, vocation, or employment c: the whole body of persons engaged in a calling
Have a look at look at Visual Thesaurs for a ‘thinkmap’ on the word ‘profession’
…. clearly calling and vocation are central to any understanding of ‘profession’ ….
….if the professions have power, then professionals are called to use that power wisely and with integrity … it is sad (understatement) that professionals in some disciplines have abused their position and in so doing have brought into question the very nature and status of others who resolutely honour and uphold the ethical code and tenets of their ‘chosen’ profession ….
.. a re-discovery of that sense of calling and vocation maybe what is needed across the professions ….
(re-produced with permission)
As promised I am uploading some of the material from DEPTH 2. One of the leadership snapshots was on the area of “Conflict!” This powerpoint is the material we used.
The presentation has three sections:
1. Reflecting on our own reactions and actions in response to conflict
2. A Contrast betwwen the two polar extremes of handling conflict, juxtaposing an intent to protect with the ideal, intent to learn. (Sadly I cannot find the source for this piece of work, if anyone knows I should like to be able to credit them and read more of their material).
3. An eight step process for handling conflict ……… for applied reflection rather than being THE answer.
Amaze and Youthwork the partnership have put together an initiative called, ‘We love our youth worker!’ It is a charter that Churches can sign up to, those that do so, agree to seven promises that will affirm, bless and help their youth worker.
Although it is not, I understand, officially launched until next year, it is very much around now as postcards promoting it were available at the Youthwork conference, and it’s on the very useful schoolswork site. So I thought I’d flag up the seven promises AND the rather brilliant illustrations by Dave walker!
1. we will pray and support
2. we will give space for retreat and reflection
3. we will provide ongoing training and development
4. we will give a full day of rest each week
5. we will share responsibility
6. we will strive to be an excellent employer
7. we will celebrate and appreciate
Good stuff eh? I hope it will be a useful aid to churches thinking through employment issues. I’m pretty sure too that if it catches on, adverts bearing the charter mark will be the first ones looked at.
Reflecting on this though I was thinking that we as youth workers are not always the easiest of employees. I got to wondering therefore about what the seven commitments of employed youth workers might be as a corollary charter that we aim to stand by?
I was in conversation with a wonderful bunch of youth workers on Monday and we kicked this idea around for a while. This was our brief initial stab at a, “We love our Church” Charter
1. we commit to managing our time effectively
2. we will celebrate that our church has invested so much in youth work
3. we will communicate what is happening and what we are doing
4. we will try not to be control freaks
5. we will be teachable
6. we will listen
7. we will invest in a family, spiritual and social life outside of the youth ministry
I was also playing with an idea of how we honour the history of our the employing church as part of our role in it’s now and future, we didn’t however manage to tidy and define this idea well.
Anyway ………… what would you add or take away from this speculative youth worker side of a charter?
“as we know there are known knowns, things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say there are somethings we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns-the ones we don’t know we don’t know”
Great Quote from Donald Rumsfelt even if it was a slightly evasive answer to the WMD question. I love the idea of stuff that we not only don’t know but may not know that we don’t.
I’m passionate about training ‘cos I love finding out/experiencing stuff and then seeing the difference it makes to my youth work/ministry. Training also has the enormous benefit of getting us talking and listening to other leaders. It’s tough getting to training though, especially if you’re a volunteer but the results are dynamite!
Bloggable bit is this though: In the U.K training is becoming so much more accesible and there’s some really good stuff happening. Check out Engage, Energize and Spectrum which are all excellent. On a more local level, if you happen to be in Oxfordshire, Bucks or Berks check out the Diocesan Youth Pages!
There’s a lot going on eh? (I didn’t know that!)