The Importance of Vulnerability

Youth Specialties
April 6th, 2015

In recent years, the Lord has been deepening my understanding of vulnerability: what it is, what it isn’t and how it serves as essential soil for meaningful relationships to grow.

As youth ministers, it’s critical we understand that vulnerability is not weakness.

Instead, it is the discerning, faithful living out of our own imperfection while sharing the gospel with the children and teens under our care. Simply put, Jesus radically loves the broken – and that absolutely includes us as leaders. 1 John 4:19 readily comes to mind, “We love because he first loved us.”

Dr. Brené Brown is an insightful, articulate teacher and research scholar on the subjects of vulnerability, shame, authenticity, and courage. If you don’t know her, check out one of her riveting talks or get your hands on her game-changing books. Dr. Brown hits the nail square on the head in Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead:

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” 

Doesn’t that sound like the key ingredients and recipe for an amazing youth group?

To me, it sounds like a safe community where young people can wrestle with their awkwardness and confusion, steeped in Jesus’ transformative love. It describes the place I was so desperate for as a youth myself – full of doubt, self-consciousness, and shame buried under a cover of bottomless energy and eager-to-please smiles.

Don’t get me wrong, youth group needs be a place where silliness, games, laughter, and fun abound; these are also essential expressions of Jesus’ love. My challenge for us today is that we become increasingly aware of and responsive to our own “come to Jesus moments” – to be transparent about our present struggles, bearing intentional witness that it is by grace we as youth ministers are saved and used for good in a broken world.

These Kingdom opportunities come in many forms, but they often require us to lay down our pride and false masks to confess our weaknesses, to ask for forgiveness, or to actively seek help for the sins creeping into the lesser-known areas of our private lives.

To be absolutely clear, vulnerability is not about divulging your deepest, darkest secrets to everyone and anyone.

Remember, Matthew 7:6 cautions “not to throw your pearls to swine.” Here again, Dr. Brown cuts straight to the heart of the matter: “

Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.”

Jesus is daily teaching me the hard-but-redemptive lesson that vulnerability can be a courageous, transformational, and countercultural testimony to those around me, especially to the youth who God strategically places in my path.

Do you currently practice vulnerability in your life and ministry?

In what ways can you encourage greater vulnerability in yourself,

your students, and your ministry?


Jin Min Lee, director of EGC Consulting, also serves as director of the Youth Violence Systems Project. Since joining EGC in 2008, Jin Min has provided customized consulting and technical assistance to a number of clients. Her true passion lies in seeing intra-organizational conflict, personal and relational brokenness, and systemic injustice addressed through an approach that prioritizes vulnerability, authenticity, and courage.

Get to know Jin Min Lee as she shares more at YS Team Training HoustonMINNEAPOLISORLANDO, and Philadelphia!


Youth Specialties

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