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Embrace Your Oddity!

I can’t stand it when I see youth workers trying to be hip, trying to be cool, so students will like them. And part of why this bugs me so much is that I used to be like that! I tried so hard to be the kind of cool adult I thought students wanted.

But somewhere along the road of youth ministry, I discovered that my uniquenesses – the things about me that make me different than you – are a massive strength in my ability to connect with teenagers. And I saw this in other effective youth workers as well.

One of the best youth workers I ever worked with was a total geek. He was studying for a doctorate in theoretical chemistry, wore horribly geeky clothes and awful glasses, and was a world-class nerd. But students loved him! And it wasn’t only the future geeky chemists who loved him; the students loved that he was real and authentic, and not ashamed of who he was.

These days, i’m just not cool. I’m the same age as the parents of the guys and girls in my youth group. Even if I’m cool in the slightest, it’s a qualified cool — “cool for a middle-aged dad.” Instead of masking that, or trying to be someone I’m not, I find my strength in connecting with real teenagers is to be the real me.

Embrace your oddity!

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4 thoughts on “Embrace Your Oddity!

  1. One of our pastors constantly tells me that you have to be a big weirdo to be a youth minister…I think he’s trying to take a (hopefully playful) hit at me, but I think it’s true! 😉

  2. Another good post. I always connected better with the leaders that were fine with being themselves around the youth, which is what I am now doing. Though, I don’t know if I was this crazy when I was a youth.

  3. Cool is being who you are because nobody else is and authenticity resonates with most people.

  4. One of my biggest mistakes was asking a cool looking couple to work with our youth ministry. The youth never even noticed them. Lasted about six months. Now, my stuttering, chemical engineer, pocket protector wearing, 47 year old man – him they named a band after. HE was cool apparently.

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