Dress for Success: Response

The original article this post addresses is found herepecos

In 13 years of Rural Youth Ministry, there are a few things I’ve learned. One of these important lessons is that the daily schedule of a youth pastor in a small/rural church can be even less predictable than that of the Senior Pastor.

For example, I have been “called out on short notice” during office hours to:

  • Feed Alpacas in the rain (after its rained for 3 days straight)…
  • Help haul a hydraulic lift to another church so they can change the bulb in the projector…
  • Help move furniture into the new Crisis Pregnancy Center…
  • and other interesting projects.

On the other side of the coin, on a given “office day” I might be making a hospital visit (youth or adults), going to a local school, or meeting with other youth workers or senior pastors in the region. It is very difficult to find the right balance of “what is the right thing to wear”.

Here are a couple of tips and questions that I use to strike a balance as a Youthworker:

  1. Do I have meetings scheduled that day? Who are they with?
    If I do not have scheduled meetings, that is a great day for Jeans/T-Shirts/Tennis Shoes…
  2. On Sunday for church, what is the typical Parent that is your age (or a little older) dressed like?
    My personality is such that I reserve Suits and Ties for Weddings, Funerals, and other very formal occasions. I am not comfortable in them, and I struggle to not let that show when dressed that way. At the age of 33, I am starting age out of the “preacher-boy” stereotype that can often be labeled on Youth Pastors in my denomination.

    On a given Sunday Morning at my church, most of the people in my age group are in some combination of Dress Shirt and Dress Pants, Jeans and Dress Shirt to Jeans and T-Shirt. I generally go Dress Pants/Dress Shirt. Sunday and Wednesday nights are much more laid back and shorts and sandals are common during the summer.

  3. Are there policies that address this in your church?
    3A. Guys: Are there policies against facial hair at your church?
    In my church there are no written dress codes for staff. There are churches that do have 3A on paper in their staff handbooks. If there is a policy in place, and you want to continue to serve… follow the policy.
  4. Are you being yourself?
    Wardrobe changes as you mature are not a bad thing. But be who you are.

One last thought is this… while I understand the value of first impressions, there is one factor that is equally important as your dress. It is the attitude and way in which you present yourself. I have met people who are on staff at large and small churches that, while they may be well dressed, they DO NOT carry themselves in a professional manner. Some give the idea that they have no idea what they are doing. Others dress and act “one step above everyone else”. A jerk is a jerk, with or without a tie.

My overall goal is to never dress in a way that I am putting myself above OR below anyone (all things to all people…). My secondary goal is also to present my communication (verbal, written, and non-verbal) in a way that shows love and professionalism to all people.

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