I love reading books. I believe in constantly challenging myself to grow and learn as a youth worker. I’ve recently read two books by one author that have made such a huge impact on me as a follower of Christ, a parent, a spouse and also as a youth worker.
Brene Brown has written several books, the two I have read are I Thought It Was Just Me and Daring Greatly. I can’t give a high enough recommendation for both of these books. Seriously, buy them now and send me a thank you later. So good.
In her books she writes a lot about shame and the power it has over us. Brown writes about the difference between shame and guilt. Guilt (or conviction) tells us that we made a bad choice, did something bad. While shame tells us that who we are is bad. Guilt tells us that we lied, shame tells us that we are liars and that’s all we will ever be.
Guilt or conviction will lead us to get help or make amends. Shame will leave us stuck and keep us isolated.
This has been blowing my mind. Think about some of your students. Shoot, think about yourself.
Are your students stuck? Are they starting to pull away from the ministry when they should be getting more connected? It could be that they are buried in shame. It could be that they see their shortcomings as their identity instead of simply their sin.
How do we make our youth ministries shame-free?
I am still learning…but here are a few starting places that I have found:
- Tell The Truth– Speaking honestly about what you have felt and dealt with when it comes to shame and sin…gives the students freedom to speak up about their own stuff.
- Proclaim Identity– Remind students that there is nothing they can do that will separate them from the love of God…nothing.
- Listen without Judgment– This is a tricky one but we need to be a place where a student can say ANYTHING and they know that they are still loved and valued. This doesn’t mean we don’t get them help…it just means that we help them because someone helped us.
If I am honest, most of my shame has come at the hands of well-intentioned Christ followers. Ones who made me feel like they had it all together, implied that my sin was me and finally, didn’t let me share my struggles without jumping in to correct. But I don’t want that to be my legacy as a youth worker. I want to be a part of setting students free from shame and seeing them experience that new life that Christ offers. Will you be free…and join me in setting students free from shame?
– Neely / @neelym
Want a great resource to help your students become “shame-free”? Check out The Landing: Celebrate Recovery for Students for your youth ministry!