Written by Tim Branch, author of “Am I Really Cut Out for Young Life?”
Young Life leader training is wrapping up in many different areas around the country. New leaders are preparing to be placed at schools. So people everywhere are asking this question:
Is Young Life right for me?
I’ve been there. About 10 years ago, I got placed for the first time.
So I know that what actually goes through your mind is:
…Am I REALLY cut out for this?
Make no mistake—it’s an intimidating commitment.
You’re signing up for the possibility of amazing salvation stories and being part of an amazing community. But you’re also signing up for the possibility of being ignored, rejected, made fun of—for the sake of Jesus. You’re signing up for a lot of awkwardness.
When I joined Young Life, I asked myself a series of questions. Some were healthy — but some didn’t belong within a 100-mile radius of my decision-making process.
So if you’re considering Young Life, or you know someone who is, I’d love to offer you some perspective on which questions to ask—and which to avoid.
“Am I funny enough for Young Life?”
This was near the top of my internal list, embarrassingly enough. Sure—it’s great to be able to make a bunch of high schoolers laugh. But being funny is just ONE tool to break down walls.
Some of the best leaders I’ve ever known weren’t all that funny. Know what they did instead? They loved their high school friends like crazy. They listened and cared and supported, sometimes when no one else would. And those walls came tumblin’ down.
So, while being funny is awesome, you really don’t have to make kids laugh to be a great Young Life leader.
“Am I willing to be persistent and push through the initial awkwardness?”
Yes. Consider this question carefully. If you know you’re going to give up when things get hard, don’t be a Young Life leader.
‘Cuz things are gonna get friggin’ awkward somewhere between the 1st and 30th minute of your first trip to the lunchroom.
On the other hand, if you can recognize that a kid’s initial rejection of you does NOT mean you’ve failed, and instead you plan to keep pursuing and loving them—you have the makings of an awesome leader.
“Am I outgoing enough?”
Seems like a must-have, right? But the truth is, introverts also make fantastic leaders. Introverted leaders can often be spotted working their magic in the back of the room with fringe kids, the ones who would otherwise fall through the cracks of your YL club. They often build super deep relationships with just a few kids. And those are the type of relationships that can change a kid’s life forever. As long as you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone, don’t let this stop you.
“Am I cool/Young Life-y enough?”
Please don’t use this. Please. Young life doesn’t care whether you’re sporty and wear a Kavu visor and carry a Nalgene bottle everywhere.
Also, coolness is a super overrated quality for a YL leader. The thing that builds deep relationship isn’t coolness—it’s time.
To be honest, the biggest thing to ask yourself is…
“Do I get excited about the idea of sharing Jesus with young people?”
Ah, here’s the big question–because this is what the entire mission of Young Life boils down to: sharing life, hope, and healing with hurting young people.
So, do you?
If not, maybe there’s a different age group or ministry you might like better.
If you’re not sure, seek some guidance from a staffer or a mentor.
But if the answer is an emphatic “YES!”, I’d listen to that. Don’t let questions about your personality keep you from spreading the Gospel in your local school. You don’t have to be the type of person who preaches on the street corner.
But has he changed your life? Can you share your testimony with someone like you who’s searching? Then boom. Go for it.
If you happen to be an introvert (or feel introverted when you walk into the school), and you need more help figuring out whether YL is right for you, here’s a little free e-book I wrote about it: Am I Really Cut Out for Young Life? -Tim