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« Review: Just: imagine the social justice agenda by Danielle Strickland and Campbell Roberts (Authentic: 2009) | Main | November update »

November 01, 2009


Karen Turnbull

Although I don't have children, your search for a way through has real resonance. I had been unmarried, and in youth work for nine years when I got married last December. I had no idea how different it is doing marriage AND youth work.

Suddenly I have another priority than my job. I am so used to just carrying on working in the evening if things need to be done...

This is exacerbated by the fact my husband also works weird hours. We have spent the last five months without a day off together (praise God his boss has now given him Thursday off - my day off) and it have been a challenge learning how to provide time for my husband as well as my job.

We still haven't figured out how to have church time together as i work for 4 churches and he isn't home from work until 5.30 on a Sunday... I am encouraged by your final quote... it gives us permission to, with God, find a way that fits what He has given us. Thank you :)

I wonder, how many youth workers there are out there, trying to find a way forward? Perhaps we could share a bit of this somehow? Maybe in the members area? A new group for telling our stories perhaps.

Michelle Pestridge

It's such a juggle isn't it?! I've got mixed emotions reading your article ,and I can relate to so much of it. It's really not easy trying to work it all out and support everyone in the way that they need or in the way that we feel we should. At the moment our kids experience of church is a really positive one - our Jake (3) loves running around on a sunday morning, dancing to the music and having so much attention form our youth group! Having said that he suprised me the other day when I was putting him to bed he said, 'go downstairs and talk about church mummy'. I thought, oh dear do we really talk about it that much? If I'm completely honest sometimes I'm dreaming of the 9-5, go to work and leave it all behind type job, and other times I'm in the place where you are, saying, 'ok God I'm in full surrender and total engagement'. I like what you said in the article that if you're going to be away from your children that you're going to make what you do worthwhile. So for the 3 hours I have left here today (well in the office anyway) I'm going to do just that!

Praying that God will bless you live for Him,

Michelle :-)

Amanda Roper

Thanks Michelle and Karen - it really is a juggling act, but I also love the flexibility of youth work that means I can move things around to be with the kiddies. Karen - I agree that days off can be difficult but it maskes time together even more precious!

Jennie Fytche

Thank you Amanda for a thought provoking and helpful article.Juggling parenting, working, marriage, social life(if you are lucky,) and even a quiet time is an art. My eldest daughter is 13 and still the juggling continues on new levels as we all work out who the taxi driver is for which part of today between friends, and families.There are four of us who often need to be in four different places at once each day. There is always the tension that Amanda speaks of and the little nag in the back of the mind to whether you have picked up the right things to juggle or juggled too many things.
I guess over the years I have discovered successful juggling comes from listening.Listening to the demands of work whereever and whatever that may be. Listening to your hearts desire God's voice, listening to the hearts desires of your children and husband as the years go by and wondering with amazement at what God is doing in their lifes. Sometimes letting your heart desire drift a little or be put on hold for a season and also listening to the moments of unease when you do need to surrender to God once again and trust He takes care of the details. Or sometimes reluctantly you make a change in what is being juggled. Then of course there is the hair raising moments when you feel like you have almost forgotten your children in the hectic juggle of the day, or they have to come with you when they really don't wnant to but you know at 10pm when all is quiet God has overseen the day and all is well. I think if you are listening well you become proactive in your juggling if you don't listen then the juggling becomes a reaction to demands which leaves us in a heap and tangle, losing sight of who we juggle for, why we juggle and the purpose of our juggle.
But then there are those precious moments when all goes well, and all are happy and forfilled and the buzz of a happy home full of stories of what God has been doing makes it all worth while. Amanda you are right then it really is a joy.

Ruth Thomas

Thank you Amanda, I really appreciated that. I've done practically all the things you mention, with the difference that I've fitted the children around an office-based job -- but the struggles and joys are all much the same. (And sooner or later you will stop breastfeeding, and it will feel really strange!)

I reflected for a little on your question "Do I value my own children more than the young people that I serve?". I think the key here is responsibility. Parents have total responsibility for their baby, gradually lessening as the baby grows up and becomes responsible for him/herself. No youth worker can or should ever take that degree of responsibility for the young people they serve. Love them, value them, support them, certainly; but they have their own parents or carers whose position must be respected and not usurped. There's a point where your responsibility for them ends in a way that it doesn't when it comes to your own children.

Keep on keeping on!


Thanks Ruth - that is a very good point! And Jennie - I am looking forward to the juggling continue as they get older!

Sara Hargreaves

Thanks Amanda! Good points made, it's nice to know that others struggle with the same things. Me and my husband minister together, always with a 2,5 year old somewhere in tow. She's very good at playing in a corner with a random church's grotty creche toys, bless her! And we too have 'church' at home often, with teddies in a circle, Ella with the mic at the front ordering me to stand and sit, mixes of songs and prayers ('don't know what to pray for Winnie the Pooh!' she said the other day with a confused expression).
On the 'balance' debate, may I just add this: the most important thing I've learnt since becoming a mum is this, that I'm not God (obvious to some). Sometimes we work out butts off, and what we're saying with our actions is that if I don't do it, no one will - not even God. It's humbling to have to cut down on hours and to entrust young people, volunteer leaders and programs to God. 'Unless the Lord builds the house, the labourers labour in vain.' Psalm something.

Claire earl

Hi all, I have just found this artical and it has inspired me. I return to work as a youth minister in a month after a year off due to the birth of my daughter. It has been an incredible year and I feel so different. I never thought I would feel this way about being a mummy and am amazed about how much God teaches me through her. One thing he has repeatedly said to me as a wobble about going back to work is to trust him. It sounds so simple but all my worries about screwing my little girl up, neglecting her and my hubby, child care juggling etc... do boil down to me not trusting him with my precious little girl. Stupid I know as he made her, gave her to me and is the perfect parent for her. So I am working on that. Your article and comments has helped me see I am not being stupid for still feeling called to youth ministry and that it is possible. So thank you.


Thanks Claire and Sara - Claire: I am so glad that you found the article helpful. Things can be hard to balance, but you are so right about trusting God in it all

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