Passion and perfection

I was 17 years old when I started as a teenage worker. Still a teenager myself, I was already trying to do something for those teenagers a few years younger. It was a wonderful time. I was young, so you were allowed to make mistakes and at the same time I was wildly enthusiastic. Everything was cool, cool and above all gigantic. Especially the latter, because that was the buzzword of the time.

The passion for Jesus and young people drove me forward. Nothing was too much for me and those teenagers deserved all my efforts, even though that first club only consisted of six. Let me give an example. To convey the story of Moses hitting the rock, I had prepared a play with a friend. Actually very simple: I was Moses and he was the rock. Good division of labor!

For twenty minutes
He would sit on the ground with a sign saying ‘rock’ and I would play Moses going around the mountain and finally hitting it with his stick. When I finally hit him, he spluttered out the water in his mouth. Water came out of the mountain. For twenty minutes he had sat there with his mouth full of water waiting for me to hit. Talk about passion!

Looking back, I wasn’t really well versed as a teenage worker. I had no knowledge of youth culture, if I even knew what it was. Teen ministry has never been my forte, but I had no idea about it at the time. But group dynamics, leadership styles, communication skills, vision plans or SMART goals were also concepts that I had yet to discover. I had not yet developed specific skills for teenage work, because I was driven by my passion. I gave everything for those six wonderful teenagers.

Over the years I have developed a lot of skills, followed training and learned through experiences. Everything kept getting better and the big goal became perfection. Together with a team, I built well-organized teenage services with strict scripts and highly administered teenage circles with centrally recorded study material. Pastoral questions were professionally referred to external agencies and all our annual plans looked slick. But where had the passion gone?

Arrogant or loving?
Perfection is often an enemy of passion. The better we organize it, the more we think we have everything under control. But that’s not the goal, is it? The goal is for God to get everything under control and that doesn’t look good. God’s work in people is painful, confrontational and sometimes quite unclear, but unconditionally driven by irresistible love.
Knowledge has the danger of making you arrogant. You know better than that young, enthusiastic teenage leader with no experience. But without love, without passionate hearts, children’s and youth work dies to death. You can buy the perfect program, but not the perfect youth work. That will cost you your life!

Be real
Some time ago we had our free inspiration day for child and youth workers in Ede. At a certain point everyone was allowed to write their best tip on a note. All those notes were stuck on the ‘Inspiration Wall’ so that we could encourage each other with our best ideas. It was unbelievable to see that more than half of the notes were about: Be real – Be yourself – Be open – Be vulnerable – Talk about your disappointments – Give yourself – Love the young people unconditionally. The great call was mainly aimed at ‘passion for Jesus and passion for young people’. Never let the pressure for perfection drive you to the point where you lose your passion, because then all is lost!

Would you like to know or discover more? Come to our free inspiration day for children’s and youth work in Amersfoort this Saturday, January 11.

About Martin Koornstra

Getrouwd met Karin, 2 mooie dochters, passie voor Jezus, spreker, schrijver, trainer en een beetje gek!

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