Tonight I will be going to watch our Vancouver Whitecaps host the LA Galaxy at BC Place in some MLS (Major League Soccer) action. There has been a considerable buzz around the city for the last couple of days because of one player: David Beckham.
One may argue that Beckham’s best soccer days are behind him (being left off the British Olympic Soccer Team is a clear indication) but his appeal is undeniable: along with Tiger Woods he is arguably the world’s most renown athlete. And despite the Galaxy also having all-stars Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane on its roster, the Galaxy goes as Beckham goes.
So it’s not surprising that almost all of the media focus has been on Beckham – it’s even triggered a debate as to whether or not they should open up more seats for the game that’s officially sold out. It got me thinking about what it would be like to be one of the other Galaxy players; to have the media circus follow the team wherever you went. Would I enjoy it? Would I be resentful or jealous? Would I accept it as part of the job?
I remember my first few years in youth ministry at my home parish of St. Paul in Richmond. I was surrounded by an awesome team of leaders and blessed by a youth ministry coordinator who trusted me despite my relative newness in the Catholic faith (I came into the Catholic Church in April 1993 and was part of the youth ministry team by that fall).
In my excitement, enthusiasm, and now admitted ignorance, I wanted to be involved in EVERYTHING. I wanted to be in every skit. I wanted to deliver every teaching or testimony. I wanted to make the announcements at Mass. I wanted to be known as the best small group leader. I wanted to lead every prayer service. I equated being the best youth minister to being the most popular youth minister; thus I wanted to be the most popular youth ministry leader at the parish. Basically, I wanted to be the David Beckham of my parish youth ministry.
Notice how I “wanted” to be all of these things…but I certainly didn’t “need” to be them all. In terms of “Christian years”, I was by far the youngest and least experienced member of the team. It’s almost comical now…19 years later…thinking about what a pain I must have been to work with. Certainly I had some decent ideas but scattered among them I’m sure were plenty of bad ones. I’m so grateful that my peers were patient, understanding, and most importantly, humble.
Looking back, I certainly don’t regret how things turned out: this December I will be celebrating my 10th year working for the Archdiocese of Vancouver as its Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. But I do regret how I may have made some people feel, especially if they felt that I was too selfish and/or arrogant. Over the years, I’ve learned how to delegate, how to trust others, and to humbly accept that other people are simply better than me in certain areas. In essence, I’ve learned to “get over myself”…although some would argue that I still haven’t mastered that elusive skill. :p
That’s why the best youth ministries are the ones that are run by teams of people and not just one person; where one person will be weak another will be strong. It takes a variety of individuals to minster to and with the many young people in the parish. It takes a multitude of people to be able to respond and relate to the many needs of youth. And it takes an entire team of leaders, bonded by faith, to lead young people closer to Christ.
After all, there is no “I” in “TEAM”.
And it takes an entire village to raise a child.