The struggle of being a “professional Christian”

The struggle of being a professional Christian youth workerIn last Monday’s LIVE YM Talk we talked about the struggle of growing spiritually in the midst of ministry. As people who are paid to be spiritual role models for students, we often feel expected to be in a constant state of passionate spiritual growth, but we all know that’s not true. Our graph of spiritual growth over time is a jagged arrow that goes up and down just like it does for anyone else.

Unfortunately, the unwritten expectation to be a “professional Christian” causes us to start faking it, pretending to be something in the church that we’re really not. Worse yet, when teens are transparent with us about their struggle to grow, we totally identify with them but our advice defaults to things that essentially boil down to, “Try harder,” even though trying harder hasn’t worked for us. “Spend more time reading your Bible. Pray more. Go to church more. Do more with the youth group. More, more, more.”

I shared a lot more about this back in my 2006 post titled, “Knowing God: Relationship, not ritual,” and encourage you to go check that out, especially the, “Ten questions to ask when your spiritual life is dull and dry,” PDF at the end.

In the beginning of last Monday’s LIVE YM Talk show I shared Mike’s story, which is exactly where many of us are coming from. He asks the question:

“How am I supposed to stand there [at youth group] and talk about following The Way and being a disciple when I’m struggling with the same thing?”

I encourage you to go and listen to it or download it in iTunes for free to hear the rest Mike’s story and our discussion that followed.

Tomorrow I’ll share 5 things that have been critical in my own spiritual growth lately. That post is now available here: “When I’m spiritually dry and dull.”

QUESTION: Do you feel the expectation to be a “professional Christian?” If so, how do you respond to that pressure? How transparent should we be about our own spiritual growth struggles with the teens in our ministries? Share with the rest of us in the comments below this post.

Posted on September 8, 2010

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