Have you ever felt that as a youth worker you often shift in and out of different roles? Maybe, you can’t quite articulate the necessary roles that you often end up embodying and outworking? Then may I suggest that you take a look at Sally Nash’s book.
Nash has taken her own knowledge and wisdom from her experiences as a youth worker and trainer and combined it with many others in the youth work field. All authors articulate the roles that we as youth workers find ourselves in. This has creatively been done by forming chapters around metaphors which describe the roles. For instance, some of the metaphors for youth work practice are expressed as; ‘Flawed Hero’, ‘Party Planner’, ‘Well-watered Tree’, ‘Odyssey Guide’ and ‘Empowering Liberator’. I found the book very accessible and encouraging and it was helpful to hear from the variety of authors who collaborated.
It has been written for all youth workers, whether employed or voluntary and is primarily for reflective practice. Case studies and questions at the end of each chapter are helpful for any reader to think, pray and develop their practice. The chapters also encourage youth workers to answer these questions in the light of the teams in which they work, therefore nourishing the effectiveness of the practice and acknowledging that some roles will be more natural to others. In addition, there is a questionnaire at the back that can be filled out to see which type of role you prefer. I enjoyed this and ended up having four metaphors that best describe my youth work practice; ‘Flawed Hero’, Visionary Architect’, ‘Mediating Mirror’ and ‘Odyssey Guide’. This doesn’t mean that I only practice these but highlighted the gifting that God has given me and also challenged me to grow into other roles.
Sally Nash’s desire for young people and youth workers to grow in self awareness and accountability within their practice, teams and relationship with God comes through evidently. The book is another great resource for all those in youth work, to be fully who God has made them and called them to be.
Lizzie Telfer is a freelance writer and youth worker: committed to empowering the next generation into Social Justice.