poser week

there are minutes, and hours, and sometimes even days, when i feel like i’m pretty good at my job. or, maybe i should say: there are minutes, and hours, and sometimes even days when i don’t really think about it, so lull myself into thinking that “i’m the man!”

then, there are the other times, when i feel like a poser, like i’m over my head, like i’m totally under-qualified and not smart enough. i feel like a little kid who somehow got into an adult world, and no one has noticed yet — or, they’ve noticed, but are being nice.

the last week has been a full week of feeling like an imposter, or poser, or a “who the heck let this guy in here” series of moments.

the feeling started at the end of last week, as i struggled (and still am) with the reality that the staff of ys are extremely weary. everyone’s working at 120% (or more), and we’re struggling a bit financially. if we were doing really well and working hard, it might feel ok. but the weariness is setting in deeply, and morale is low. and i don’t have a clue what to do about it.

in the midst of this realization, i was spending 12 – 15 hour days myself, preparing a one-year plan (on one page) for my boss, and a 3-year plan to present to my boss’s boss. and, i am just SO not a business man. talking about finances and growth (especially when we’re not growing), putting together charts and graphs — well, let’s just say i felt a bit like i would be the little kid coming home with my pretty pictures, saying “look what i drew, mommy.”

sunday, i flew to grand rapids, and monday and tuesday were spent with the leadership team of zondervan, of which i am a part. i’m not saying i don’t contribute anything — they’re all really nice and tell me i add to the group. but they all just seem so smart. i play my little gadfly role, and try to keep my “well, what we do at YS is…” comments to a minimum. really, it was a good two days, and i love the people i work with there — but i did regularly have that feeling of “who let me in this room?” and “when are they going to discover that i’m a junior high pastor, not an executive.”

wednesday morning, i spoke to 100 professional youth workers at a nice breakfast hosted by baker book house. again — great time. but (and, maybe it was the experience of the previous two days), i left feeling like, what qualifies me to be the guy up front speaking? just my title? a title i have because a quirky dude named yaconelli chose to bestow it to me?

wednesday afternoon i sat in a long meeting with a few zondervan execs, a few fox execs, a harpercollins exec, and a couple others, about an initiative we’re working on. what the heck?

and the ultimate was thursday morning, when i sat with the ceo of harpercollins and my boss, the ceo of zondervan, and talked for an hour (with my pretty charts and graphs, all ready to be pinned to a refrigerator with a “look what markie drew!” magnet) about the future of ys. the meeting went well, as did all the others; but i left with that overwhelming “how in the world did i get here?” feeling. this all came together in my little tired mind on the flight home yesterday afternoon.

don’t misread this: i’m not getting all down on myself, or saying i suck, or asking for any pats on the back. i’m just trying to be transparent about the regularity of the feeling i experienced this week.

26 thoughts on “poser week”

  1. it is a gift to be so transparent, my friend, to share a sense of humanity. it encourages so many of us to realize that god is there with us, that the poser is god’s beloved, that this feeling qualifies you (and all of us) for membership in the cloud of witnesses that are the saints (famous & notorious)

    p.s. crowder vs. cornel west – sheer genius

  2. dude. i think, if we’re all really honest and we are “challenging” ourselves by what we’re doing, then we’d all admit that we don’t really have much of an idea what we’re doing. the world – and probably the men in our life – have never stood before us and said, “I just don’t really know what i’m doing at work. sometimes i’m pretty sure i’m not qualified or competant for this.”

    Little Yaconelli (Mark) writes about this in the 12th chapter of “Contemplative Youth Ministry.”

  3. Isn’t it amazing that God uses the little people, like you, Gideon, Moses, the disciples, etc to shine in this world? I’ve always heard that he does that because if you knew what you were doing 100% of the time, you probably wouldn’t need God to help you along the way.

  4. Welcome to my world Marko. That’s the way I felt and feel, quite often. Like I’m a giant kid in a “grown-up” world.

    As to you speaking to a group of youthworkers… Here’s what I know. YS is about Youth Ministry. YS is about empowering Youth Workers. YS leads the way in focusing on helping Youth Workers better do their job. You lead YS – so you are the front man. You are our support and encouragement.

    I always knew that when I was working in churches, and I needed to get away to be me, to be with God, to find encouragement, support and knowledge – I could head to NYWC or the CORE and feel refreshed and renewed and recognize God in my life again.

    You are the face of YS Marko. That’s you doing that. You, Tic, and the rest of your wacky staff. You are the ones who remind us of who we are, of God’s love for us, and renew our passion for strenthening God’s relationship with the youth we work with.

    Thank you Marko. Thank you YS. Thank you for all you do. Don’t ever forget it, don’t ever change, and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. God is with you and working through you to empower and encourage us, and in turn – encourage and minister to our churches.

    Thank you.

  5. Hey Marko,
    Thanks for this post. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who feels like this from time to time. Hang in there. God has you where you are for His purpose.

    Looking forward to bumping into you at the NYWC.


  6. Marko- Everyone is patting you on the back so I’ll go the other way. Maybe at some point it’ll be time for you to give up the leadership position and go back to being a full-time Youth pastor. It would be a tough decision to make but God has called you to be effective with kids. With that said I also think you are incredibly effective doing what you are doing and don’t think that you should leave it. Most of us in the Youth Pastor world have made the statement “I just want to be a volunteer sometimes….” in your world “I just want to be a youth pastor….” seems like a statement you probably make as you are putting together charts and vision for the organization.

    Stay the course. This is a tough season for you. But, if you ever want a job I’d hire you :)

  7. i am just asking . . . from your memory . . . did mike yac kinda have times like this as well? i got this sense that he did. but when it comes down to, a just want to be a lover of Christ. to me everything is secondary and when i do this he rewards me of the secondary things. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND.

  8. Mark, thanks so much. You being transparent is the exact reason why God chose you to be where you are. Thats the same feeling I get when I’m working with Especialidades. You described perfectly.

  9. Sad as it seems, it is helpful for us to see you humbled like this. Thank you for your transparency, Marko.

    Every time I’ve read stories of people being used in the bible, they’ve never felt adequate. If we were adequate when accomplishing much, then how could God get any glory? The fact that you feel incapable shows that God’s using you, yay.

    We should have Youth Worker/Executive switch days. Then you can get a break and take our position (say for instance, MY volunteer position) and we can experience what it feels like to be an Executive. I nominate myself first so please let me know when you’re planning a trip to Ireland.


  10. I feel this way once-a-week as a youth pastor in an XP’s body. I genuinely and deeply appreciate this post. I feel less like a freak who is the only one thinking this way. Thank you Marko. You are a huge encouragement to me.

  11. Great post, Marko. We all respect your transparency. Honestly, I don’t think there is a worker in the field who doesn’t have those feelings. If they don’t, they are not the norm. I will say a prayer for you and the team. I’d offer this: keep your team encouraged. Its hard to encourage others when you feel somewhat discouraged yourself… but I know it pays off in the long run. I’d also say that you have to be qualified to have taken YS to where it is today. May God continue to use you.


    [ps] You made me laugh out with the “look what markie drew!” comment.

  12. i think it’s bound to happen to all of us that work in ministries… because i think God puts us in places we’d never choose for ourselves– for that very reason, so we know HE put us there when we would choose an easier task. it would be a lot easier for me to be or do something else, but God put me here — and you there — and until we hear a different calling from him, we’re just going to have to trust that he didn’t make a mistake. and that’s definitely harder to do some days than others. hang in there!

  13. Marko, I add my thanks for your transparency. I attend a church where this kind of transparency and authenticity is not only looked down on but discouraged quite strongly, as well as attacked when it’s shown. Thanks for reminding me that this is how Christ’s kids should act, even as we are assured by His Spirit that we’re where He wants us, and He’s working through us to do great things.

  14. Thanks MarkO!! I think the Lord had you share that with the rest of us so we didn’t feel that we were the “only” ones who feel the way you have been feeling! As for feeling “adequate” I have NEVER felt adequate in my position as youth minister! LOL Maybe that’s why He’s still using me! Remember YOU ARE HIS!

  15. to be so transparent is to be vulnerable and humble and open to change. easier to show the world how “together” we are, how we don’t ever hurt or need or struggle.

    thank you for this post. and for this illumination into the part of you that is always there, and which, along with the confident, secure part, is what makes you YOU.

    i think that’s part of what Yac saw when he chose you to lead. the both/and.


  16. I can sooo relate to that. I transitioned from youth ministry to pastoral ministry (although much of what I do is still working with youth – Thank God!)4 yrs ago and I am constantly feeling like a kid in a grown up world. I moved to pastoral ministry out of a sense of calling, but I am constantly reminded that it is not an easy fit, but it makes me wonder how many feel that it is an easy fit. My guess would be that there are many of those execs that you named that feel the same way. Ultimately I think we are mostly adults who long to be children again. That is why YS is so important, not only does it give us resources in ministry, but it also reminds us that it is okay to still play and have fun while doing it…that is what I have always loved about YS!

  17. Marko, you are so right on, and so blessed to be aware of the feelings you’re feeling.

    I have had that feeling you’ve described for the better part of my ministry career. And, let me tell you, it kinda sucks. And yet, that feeling forces me to spend more time on my knees in submission to His will.

    We (as in our fellowship of youth workers) almost have to have this feeling to keep us humble. I don’t know about you, but it is certainly a huge challenge to stay humble when doing the Lord’s work.

    I wrote on my own blog recently that the thing that keeps us out of trouble is humility…recognizing who we are, who we are not, and why God loves us so abundantly because of that!

  18. sounds like working at a book company and working at a church have a lot in common-
    the roles are different, but the feelings and the insecurities are the same

  19. And in the midst of feeling really naked & exposed we cry for God and He meets us. Because a bruised reed He will not break and dimly burning wick He will not extinguish. Jesus, thank you for calling us to things bigger than ourselves even though it is scary at times.

  20. MarkO, just wanted you to know that I appreciated the words you said at the youthworkers thing in G.R. sitting next to you and hearing you talk around the b-fast table and just being real made me realize that you are just a guy that happens to be the head of YS yet still is a normal guy that has opinions and cares what others have to say. I’d seen you at YS conventions before and was always afraid to talk with you, but when you sat with us, it made me realize that you were a man that cared about what we were going through.

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