I once (a long time ago) was a full-time youth worker. I have a number of other friends who are also ex-full-time youth workers; and the ones I have posed this question to have all answered it the same way.
The question: Was your relationship with your family and God better when you were a paid professional youth worker, or is it better now, in your new role?
Each one basically said those relationships are “better now that I quit.”
I can’t tell you how that bothers me; but I can tell you it is true for me too; my relations of stated priority—God, spouse, and family—all improved after resigning from full-time youth work. Back in 2002, The Association of Youth Ministry Educators (AYME) published a study reporting among its many findings that most former youth workers (more than 70%) admitted that their relationship with God improved dramatically upon leaving full-time youth work.
What do you think about this issue? Is the way in which we approach youth work detrimental to our own relationships with Jesus and our families?
Is this a legitimate concern? Do you think my anecdotal findings and those of AYME valid or true today?
I will follow this up with some of my thoughts in the near future but would love to hear from you, today.