The Value of an Organized Workspace

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Originally published November 15, 2009.

I am honored to be one of the authors included in The Youth Worker Book of Hope.It is a book of real situations experienced by real youth workers.Each story includes honest insight and ideas of the lessons learned (often the hard way) for the purpose of giving hope to other youth workers.That is my favorite part of this book.

But there is one chapter that outright angers me.When you read the book, you will notice that this chapter didn’t even follow the same format of including “Where Things Went Wrong” and “Finding Hope.”That is where the valuable lessons learned are.The chapter that angers me is titled “When Your Office is a Wreck” and the lame insight offered is “A dirty office is really the least of your concerns.”Rightfully, the author offers that time with teens, your spouse and family, and with Jesus are more important than a clean office.But then we are offered this even lamer insight,

“And take solace in the fact that those youth workers who do hover in spotless offices are often not doing a lot of youth work.They may be doing a lot of organizing, administrating, paper shuffling, and so forth—and some of them may even be doing effective ministry.But it is doubtful there are throngs of kids eagerly awaiting the opportunity to come and hang around their offices and get into their well-organized files.”More such insults come after this quote.


Rubbish.So wrong.I could count the ways but I’d like to go in this one direction.

In the November/December 2009 issue of Group, Mark Matlock has an article disputing the current myths in youth ministry.One of the myths he disputes is the now known fact “that parents are the number one spiritual influencer in a teen’s life”.From this he highlights two concerns he sees and hears from his perspective that parents have with youth pastors.The first one is poor communication.A lot of us are guilty of poor communication.And a lot of us communicate in every which way possible and find that parents still complain of not enough communication.I hear the concern and I do try to communicate in every way possible, but this poor communication concern is definitely a two-edged sword.

The other concern is, and I quote, “Lack of organization.Many parents told us their kids’ youth worker was struggling and risking burnout because of poor work habits and disorganization.They brought this up because they were concerned that their youth minister’s personal and family life were suffering, and when they offered suggestions for improvement in a spirit of concern those were seen as personal attacks.”Ouch.This is truth that hurts.

The simple and serious truth is it is important to keep your workspace organized.It may not be a priority, but it is necessary to make an effort in this area.

For some of you this is no problem.For me, this is a natural.However, I am married to someone who is not.So I promise to not nag you like I tend to nag my husband.I do suggest you Google and find the tons of practical ideas that are out there to better organize your workspace.There are so many ideas available that I know there are some tips which actually will be helpful to the specifics with which you struggle.If you still need more help, allow these parents to help you.In this space I simply want to Wild Frontier Challenge you to make purposeful attempts to better organize your workspace.

Why?Your image needs it.Parents entrust their “beloved” to you and parents welcome your presence into their family life.If you can responsibly organize piles of paper, camp deposits, etc., it shows that you can also take care of their “beloved”—as well as their money.Further, with better organization you will probably also be a better communicator, see Concern #1.

Please be challenged to do something better to organize your workspace.There is value in this very ordinary practice.