I remember not long after I got married about 5 years into my youth work career being out every other night and working to fix the problems of every young person who came through my circle of influence. I also remember the conversation I had with my wife where she told me I needed to deal with my God complex!!!
I didn’t think I had a God complex! I was just the local youth worker. I was the one who they looked to for advice. I was the one they could come to to deal with their issues. I was the one who helped the through the storms and stresses of youth. There wasn’t another youth worker in the area and I was the first point of call for many of the young people.
Many youth workers, particularly early in their career, strive to do everything they can for the young people they work with. This is not wrong as some would have you believe. A little misguided perhaps, but not wrong. Where this misguided focus can tend to become trouble is when youth workers forget that they do not know everything. Sometimes we get in so deep that we forget to advocate, refer and empower.
Our God complex comes to the fore when we overstep our ability. As youth workers we aren’t psychologists, accountants, doctors or lawyers. we may have some understanding of other areas of practice, but for the most part as youth workers we know about young people and that is where our practice should stay. When our passion makes us over reach we become detrimental to our young people and bring our profession into disrepute.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS! When we know what we are able to do we can provide a great service to our young people. When we know our limits we can focus our ongoing professional development to expand our abilities. When we know our limits we can work with our colleagues from other disciplines comfortable in our own abilities. Most of all when we know our limits we can live a balanced life without the God complex.