“Selfie” has become a real live word… The Oxford English Dictionary recognized it as such just this year. Of course, we who work with young people understand the term… A self-portrait picture, most likely posted on some form of social networking, which commemorates a moment. Even Pope Francis has been part of a selfie. Those who consistently post selfies, it seems to me, are editing their own story… we spectators only seem to get to see the fun, the fabulous, the fantastic of the poster’s life… I got to be at this exclusive event (See me here), look who I ran into (See me with), this was the time I did this (See me when). It is all such a façade with very little depth… which is the whole point of a medium that includes restrictions of 140 characters or less. It seems like a transparent life but is not. It seems like an authentic life but it is not. Selfie mentality presents the best of poster’s life, setting aside anything that is broken, smoothing over rougher edges, ignoring hurts. It’s not overly an overly appealing side of the technologic revolution, yet we find a similar style in youth ministry. If a report on youth ministry seems to include you, you, you…, and only you; then perhaps it is time to evaluate both your ministry and yourselfie!If you are in the center of every potential portrait of ministry, then you have chosen to limit your ministry to far too few characters. If you even holding the controls of the camera taking every potential portrait of ministry, then you have chosen to limit the viewpoint of ministry. What we need today is not Selfie Youth Ministry but Selfless Youth Ministry.
Selfless Youth Ministry
- Is all about communion… not with ourselves, but with God. Pope Francis recently described it this way. “The Church, in her most profound truth, is communion with God, intimacy with God, a communion of love with Christ and with the Father in the Holy Spirit, which extends to brotherly communion.” Helping ourselves and others in their connectedness with the Lord leads to connectedness with others
- Is all about stepping out of the picture so that others step in… We need to provide both the skills and the space for others to lead. Our ministry needs more characters and not just duplicates or ourselves. Young people need the spiritual network of their parents, other adults, and the community. Selfie youth ministry inadequately serves young people
- Is about providing more opportunity than you alone can provide…. This is not busy-ness for the sake of appearing busy but for the sake of service to many diverse individuals. You serve not as the implementer of the vision, but the promoter of the vision.
T.S. Eliot wrote, “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm, but the harm does not interest them … or they do not see it, or they justify it … because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” One of the surest ways to stymie that which we perceive as “our ministry” is to perceive it as “our ministry.”