What makes a voice?

A few weeks ago, I started to think about what gives someone the right to be a
voice? As you may already know, there are plenty of youth ministry websites to read
from, and some who have multiple contributors, but just because someone has their
own website, doesn’t mean they are worth listening to. We share with our students how
they should consider the voices they allow to be influences in their lives, but sometimes
we forget to do the same for ourselves. This is why we need to read the biography of
the author at the end of a post, because it gives the reader a decision to decide if this
person is credible or not. So here are four criteria I always consider when reading from
different writers.

Age: I have age as one of my criteria’s, not for my older brothers or sisters, but for
me and my younger brothers and sisters, who are trying to establish themselves in
the ministry. I’m 27 years old, and looking back on how I viewed ministry at 21, and
even 25, makes me shake my head and laugh. And I’m sure when I’m 35, I’ll look
back at how I viewed ministry at 27 and do the same. We live in an era that extends
adolescents to 25 years old, and we need to be mindful that there are student ministers
who are still emotionally coming into their own. In the end, I think there is something to
consider about Jesus starting his ministry at 30.

Experience: How long someone has been in the ministry is extremely important. A
veteran youth worker has gained knowledge that only comes with living in the trenches,
and the more experience the better. When it comes to experience I also consider if
they’re full-time, bi-vocational, interning, or volunteering, and if they’re involved in
middle school or high school ministry, married or not, and if they have children or no
children. All of these contribute to how someone’s ministry is formed.

Education: I believe education is extremely important, and a person who has put in the
time and effort to continue their education shows me they’re willing to go above and
beyond to be a life-long student of Christ. Seminary and Doctorial work is brutal, and it
stretches a person in more ways than one. I’ve learned professors do this to make sure
the Gospel is proclaimed at the highest level, and I believe a person who extends their
education has gained tools to theologically and practically carry out the work Gospel.

Consistency: I don’t expect a person to put out caliber posts every single time, but I at
least expect them to be consistent about writing good content. In my opinion, having
someone who is a hit and miss with their writing reflects a lack of willingness to put in
the time and effort their post deserves. A person who is consistent in their writing shows
me they have carefully planned out their topic, so their reader can enjoy and learn from
what was written.

In the end, we need to remember all of these criteria’s work together, not
separately, nor are they used to look down on anyone. Furthermore, before we let
someone be a voice in our lives, we need to give them an ample amount of time to
prove themselves worthy of being an influence. Also, just because someone doesn’t
meet all four of these criteria, it doesn’t mean they’re eliminated from being a voice.
There are plenty of writers who I allow to be a voice, even though they don’t meet all of
my standards. Everyone has knowledge to contribute; we just have to learn what should
be taken with a grain of salt. Finally, as I write this, I recognize the criteria I hold to
others will also be the same criteria others will hold to me, which I embrace. Being
someone’s voice has to earned, and like other bloggers, we want to do our best to earn
that right!

What other criteria’s do you think should be considered when it comes to allowing someone to be a voice?

  • this is a great post. those are all great categories. but i think that still limits who gets to the table. for me, i really only have one category. are they teachable?

    this one characteristic opens up a ton of dialogue, makes them someone i actually want to talk with. i hate being talked to, but posts that are written as fellow travelers makes me want to come back for more.

    i long for and need the youth ministry voices of the 24 year old, the 27 year old, and those in their late 30’s and beyond. i just don’t need know it alls telling me how the world is, especially when our worlds are so different.