Straightening The Cookies

Note: The illustration in this post is written tongue in cheek. However, the application of it is quite serious.

So I was in Starbucks today, but left without buying anything. The cashier was in front of the register restocking the cookies in a metal tin.  I was standing in her path of sight, so she knew a customer was waiting. The cookies just would not straighten to her liking so she kept working on them, rather than serving the waiting customer. I didn’t get worked up by this, but I did leave without the drink I was craving. If that would be the worst thing I faced today, I think I’m having a pretty good day.

As I was driving away, I got to thinking about that situation and how it relates to other parts of life, including my work in youth ministry. How am I caught straightening the cookies and missing opportunities with students waiting for my attention? At the risk of making too much out of that cookie situation, I think this is kind of important for youth workers to evaluate.

Here’s a small list of ways all of us may be missing the mark (straightening the cookies, rather than helping students):

  • Interrupting a student talking to us to tell a story her words reminded us of
  • Hanging out in the back of the youth room with other leaders during a program instead of experiencing the service with the students
  • Doing anything on our phones while with students, unless it somehow involves them
  • Quietly daydreaming as we drive our students somewhere, when we could be joining in their conversation

Let’s “straighten the cookies” on our own time. When we’re with students, let’s give them our whole attention.


Also published on Medium.

Straightening The Cookies – Volunteer Youth Ministry

Straightening The Cookies

Note: The illustration in this post is written tongue in cheek. However, the application of it is quite serious.

So I was in Starbucks today, but left without buying anything. The cashier was in front of the register restocking the cookies in a metal tin.  I was standing in her path of sight, so she knew a customer was waiting. The cookies just would not straighten to her liking so she kept working on them, rather than serving the waiting customer. I didn’t get worked up by this, but I did leave without the drink I was craving. If that would be the worst thing I faced today, I think I’m having a pretty good day.

As I was driving away, I got to thinking about that situation and how it relates to other parts of life, including my work in youth ministry. How am I caught straightening the cookies and missing opportunities with students waiting for my attention? At the risk of making too much out of that cookie situation, I think this is kind of important for youth workers to evaluate.

Here’s a small list of ways all of us may be missing the mark (straightening the cookies, rather than helping students):

  • Interrupting a student talking to us to tell a story her words reminded us of
  • Hanging out in the back of the youth room with other leaders during a program instead of experiencing the service with the students
  • Doing anything on our phones while with students, unless it somehow involves them
  • Quietly daydreaming as we drive our students somewhere, when we could be joining in their conversation

Let’s “straighten the cookies” on our own time. When we’re with students, let’s give them our whole attention.


Also published on Medium.

Dennis Beckner is a volunteer youth worker who trains volunteer youth workers. Since 1999 he has been a leader at Saddleback Church’s Student Ministry. He is the author of Volunteer Youth Ministry, A Roadmap For Effective Leadership, and owns VolunteerYouthMinistry.com. Graduated from Point Loma Nazarene College in 1994, BA Religion
Your thoughts here
  1. Simple yet effective way to communicate this message. Thank you for this! Sometimes I have to remind myself to not get lost in trying to prepare an environment because of straightening my cookies!

    Johnny Boatfield

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