By Kirk Moore Youth workers often have a reputation of being tireless, resilient and somewhat headstrong. I think it can also be said that youth workers spend so much time and energy helping others grow in their faith that they neglect caring for their own souls. Veteran youth worker Jeanne Stevens feels the same way. In her book, Soul School: Enrolling in a Soulful Lifestyle for Youth Ministry, she writes from her perspective as a youth leader who has experienced the ups and downs of ministry and who has also had her share of successes and failures.
Soul School is an invitation for youth workers to step away from outward comparisons and unrealistic expectations and instead live life authentically seeking and experiencing God’s presence. Each chapter focuses on a different area of soul enrichment. Additionally, each chapter finishes with a workbook area with space for contemplation and to written reaction, as well as for setting goals for your own soul enrichment.
A few chapter highlights:
- The Unforced Rhythms of Grace – “Too many youthworkers are afraid to admit they’re tired” (p.39) “God is the one who fills our tanks.” (p. 41)
- Hello, My Real Name Is . . . – “We are God’s children, we always have been his children, and we always will be his children.” (p. 84)
- The Miraculous Middle – “I am still amazed that in Jesus we can be both broken and whole.” (p. 99) If there’s a quote that sums up this book – this is it.
- The Freedom of Forgiveness – “I was surprised by what happened to me when I began to embrace my capacity for being wrong.” (p. 110)
I think the best students for Soul School are youth leaders who are open to an ongoing soul-renovating experience. Some chapters will be much more engaging than others for different youth workers, but the same book read at different life seasons will likely challenge the reader in very different ways. I found myself deeply engaged by about 4 of the book’s 10+ chapters. I think all of the chapters would have engaged me had there been more first-person experiences in addition to Jeanne’s personal and third-person experiences. Soul School is a helpful, and in some respects necessary, resource for helping youth workers recharge on a continuing journey of faith.