youth worker, youth ministry, student ministry, fear

The Power of Fear

By Doug Franklin December 13, 2011

When you think about it fear keeps us from lots of things – deeper relationships, meaningful conversations and implementing risky ideas, it’s also the thing that keeps most adults from volunteering to be a small group leader or a mentor for students. One of the best ways I have found to deal with adult fears is to name them and talk about them. I suggesting that you make a Power Point presentation listing all the fears that adult face and deal with them one by one. This is the list I use:

Top Ten fears of Youth Workers
10. I’m to Old
9. I’m not hip
8. I don’t speak the language
7. I’m to smart for this
6. I don’t know what to say
5. I don’t look the part
4. I don’t know enough about the Bible
3. If students ever knew what I did in the past…
2. I can’t relate
1. Students won’t like me

I place a funny picture next to each fear which serves to release the tension and gives me an easy opening into an often difficult discussion. I have found that these little fears are powerful and gripping to youth ministry volunteers. Quick quips and silly stories will not be helpful for most adults. I start by telling my own fears and how I have dealt with them. I also give adults the chance to see themselves as students do which for most adult is powerful. I do this in four ways;

1. I take them back to their high school days and ask them to think about an adult who had an influence in their lives – I remind them of the power of this relationship and how it shaped and molded them, positively or negatively. I then connect the dots for them and encourage them to be a positive influence in a student’s life.

2. I describe for them how a student thinks – students see us as larger than life, people who have all the answers and worry free. Little do they know. As adults we tend to think that students see us as equals, for the most part they don’t. A positive upbeat adult will always attract students. Students want to know what they think you know.

3. Bring in a ringer, someone who has had success to tell their story. This can be a member of your current team or someone from the congregation. These personal ministry stories can be powerful for people on the front line of ministry. Have your ringer share a fear and how God helped them overcome it.

4. Focus on the results, I often find that people who are in a fight to reach a mountain top don’t because they never look up. They see the problems never the results. Have a student share how a relationship with an adult made a difference or have a student share how they view the adult leaders. You may just want to share results that you have seen.

Remember: people don’t talk about their fears. If you think this isn’t a problem for your volunteers because you have never heard them talk about it, think again. Here is my challenge for you, spend twenty minutes of your next staff meeting on this and watch the reaction. Don’t be afraid.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More