Humility is alive and well in youth work

I was blessed to be asked to be the speaker for the first Young Life Capernaum Metro Wide leader training in San Jose. What this really means is that I got to hang out with really cool staff and volunteers who do ministry with teens with disabilities. As we went around the room and shared our name, where we were serving and nicknames from HS one thing became very evident, I was woefully underqualified to be there in any capacity for teaching.

There were 30+ people around the room. There were three who were in their first year of ministry. Several in the first 3-5 years. Over half had served in youth ministry for more than a decade. Several for more than two decades, a few for more than three and one for 51 years!!

James 3:1 was ever present with me. What could I possibly teach this group that they did not already know? How could I possibly offer something of worth or substance when some of them have been serving in youth ministry longer than I’ve been alive?  (And it has been a LONG time since I was considered a young leader.)

Add to this that the very first club kid the founder of Capernaum ever had is now a volunteer leader. His story is one of lifelong disability, difficult speech and amazing devotion to Jesus. For many, he is easily passed by. It takes great effort to hold a conversation and lots of patience to keep asking for a repeat of what he has said. Oh but when you do take the time! He has a wicked sense of humor, a deep devotion to his wife matched only by his devotion to God. He was the embodiment of being perfectly capable but invisible. He has lived what I only feel at times. He has learned to listen to the truths from God where I often drown in my own self degradation. He has learned to be joyful in the moment when I too often seek situations that bring joy.

I did speak throughout the weekend. I offered what I could and each person was so gracious in their response. What I took away however was priceless. A room full of people who are well qualified, talented, dedicated and serving the Lord but not a single ego in sight. There was no posturing. There was humility. There was a deference to God and gratitude for getting to serve. There was a beautiful spirit of getting to share faith without having to prove your own worth along the way.

Younger leaders and older leaders, seasoned veterans and rookies, those with disabilities and typically bodied people…all together, all learning and leading.

James 3:1 does say that not many should be teachers. In this room, every person was and they are exactly the people you want teaching and leading in any ministry, anywhere. I learned that weekend that it’s not always about what I teach, but what I get to continue to learn when I speak. I had it modeled for me. I pray I am able to do the same.

P.S. A bonus for anyone reading who is at the beginning of this ministry journey. Did you notice how many people I mentioned who were serving for 10, 20 even 50+ years? Hang in there!! We need you for the long haul!


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About Amy Jacober

Amy Jacober (PhD, Fuller Seminary) is a youth ministry veteran with ministry and teaching experience. She focuses on practical theology, urban ministry, theology & disability, and marginalized communities. She is a volunteer youth worker in her church and community, lead consultant with Youth Ministry Architects and serves on the Young Life Capernaum national board. In her free time she can be found playing with her three young children, husband, and oversized dog.