Who Takes The Blame in Youth Ministry?

If you work with teenagers, chances are you’ve witnessed many mistakes. Maybe it was that game you thought would be awesome; however, a girl ends up puking. Or that trip that was incredible … until you arrived home late because you couldn’t find the one teen in the rest stop gift shop. In youth ministry, mistakes will be made. Parents, teens, volunteers and even the pastor will get angry with you.

When something doesn’t go as originally planned, the temptation is to find a scapegoat. You were late because of someone else. The game didn’t go according to plan because the instructions weren’t clear. You make excuses and point the finger; however, all it does is hurt your leadership. Mistakes will happen because you and I are human. As a leader, instead of looking for an excuse or someone to blame:

1. Take Ownership of the Situation.

Owning the situation doesn’t necessarily mean you will take the blame. It means you will take the steps to resolve the situation. If someone is at fault, you’ll find out who that is, or if there was a miscommunication, you’ll discover when that happened. By owning it, you are allowing others to hold you accountable. By embracing the situation, you show others you care.

2. Criticize and Critique Privately.

If a problem does occur because of someone else, make sure you talk with them privately. Making a fool of them in front of their peers is embarrassing and doesn’t look good for you. If the situation is severe, be sure to have an accountable party who will affirm the discussion. This will also protect you if the person isn’t accepting of the feedback.

3. Pray With Others.

Most youth ministers are their own harshest critic, which will drain us emotionally and spiritually. Having a small group of peers to listen to your concerns is essential. Allow them to pray for you and pour into you so you can continue to move forward. In the end, you’ll know you aren’t walking through the problem alone.

4. Obtain Trustworthy Feedback.

Make sure you analyze the situation with the help of others. If the mistake was made by another person, seek wisdom on how you could have prevented putting the wrong person in the wrong place. Have someone you trust to give you the brutal facts to point you in the right direction.

I’m not suggesting you as the leader take the fall 100 percent of the time; however, it’s important to own the situation. Look to resolve it, share the burden with others, and make the necessary preparations to avoid the situation in the future. A great leader is one who is humble enough to know mistakes are made and that it’s all a part of being human.

How do you rebound from mistakes being made?   

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Chris Wesley
Chris graduated from Xavier University in 2003 with a BA in Communications: Electronic Media. He moved to Baltimore in the fall of 2003 where he served as a Jesuit Volunteer for a year. During that time, he was a Case Manager at Chase Brexton, met my wife Kate and felt God's calling to Student Ministry. In the summer of 2004, heI was hired by the Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland as a Middle School Youth Minister. Today he oversees grades 5-12 as the Director of Student Ministry.

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