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Anonymous Letter from a Female Youth Worker

I have been with my church for 10 years. I can’t help but feel like I’ve not done a good job, nor does anyone want to “thank” me. Again, I don’t (well, maybe I do!) expect any “goods or services” from people, but when you find yourself in dozens of various conversations with youth pastors about “anonymous gifts” left on desks, delivered to houses, beach houses “donated for the week for a family vacation”, over and over again…I have to feel like I’ve done something extremely wrong. I do receive wonderful, heart-felt notes of encouragement from parents, which I not only LOVE, I save. But, I’m just (very quietly-I’ve never shared this with anyone) curious as to why I’m not “praised” for the timeless amounts I put into my job?

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When I read stories like this I wonder how the church processes James 1:1-13? It makes me wonder what type of leadership environment allows one minister to receive no praise while showering praise on another based purely on gender?

Bigger than that it makes me think about accepting perks as a staff member. For instance, is it appropriate for a senior minister to accept a cash gift (or use of vacation property) while the other ministers on the team don’t? Wouldn’t a Christ-like attitude be that the least resourced staff members should get dibs on the perks afforded to the ministry? Is it the churches responsibility to see to it that all staff members are treated equally or is equal opportunity employment not a reasonable expectation?

If you were an elder at this woman’s church how would you correct the congregation? 

ht to Tony Jones

Posted on 4 Comments

4 thoughts on “Anonymous Letter from a Female Youth Worker

  1. I’ve only been at my church for 3+ years, and I haven’t received much of anything either. But, as I’m processing through some stuff as a part of a class at GFES on Spirituality, Shame, and Grace, I wonder what we (those who would thrive with more encouragement and praise) can do to better communicate this need? It’s always nice when the other person/entity takes the onus, but my bigger question would be how do we create an environment within leadership where this can be discussed? No matter how self-differentiated we may be as leaders, encouragement goes a LONG way, so what does it look like to have the freedom to admit that we need it?

  2. Both churches I’ve been at have offered a Christmas gift for me and my family (typically money). In terms of the added perks a minister may receive, the “favoritism” passage you (Marko) shared is a reality that we all have to deal with. I view the church as a hospital for the spiritually sick. That being said, these same people we are ministering to are in a life-long rehab from their sins. One of those sins is neglecting the edification of others, sometimes church workers. To their defense, they may see church workers as stable in their faith and because of that, they don’t necessarily need to give us encouragement as much as someone who isn’t on the payroll. In addition, if you are on the payroll, they may believe that you are getting your “just compensation”.

    To explain the reasoning behind favoritism from one church-worker to another, that is a puzzle that we would have to look at on an individual basis. Is it fair? No. But Christ didn’t say that life would be fair…in fact He said the opposite…that it would be tough. Matthew 5:46 says, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” The point I’m trying to make is that God sees what you do for Him and the REAL reward is from ABOVE, not from those we minister to. Cherish those notes of encouragement and take each monetary or homemade jam as a bonus, but not as an entitlement. When I see my senior pastor get something I don’t get, my human nature says to get jealous and say, “where’s mine?”. However, God tells me, …”Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.” (Colossians 3:23-25)

    1. Sorry to give false props to Marko. It was Adam that quoted the James passage…my bad.

      1. I was just about to clarify that. 🙂

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