Are you an indispensable youth worker?

Seth Godin is one of those provocateurs that youth workers should read. His blog is the most widely read business blog for a reason, mostly because it rejects the impulse to preserve the status quo. He operates under the assumption that everyone is — or at least can be — a leader, artist, marketer, and storyteller, and his brand of personal empowerment jives with a generation weened on social media productivity.

For example, many of the ideas from his 2010 book Linchpin: Are you indispensable?, ring true for youth workers.

In the old economy, the Industrial economy, complex tasks (manufacturing cars, for example) were reduced to their simplest, component parts (applying screws). This simplicity allowed for the efficiency of assembly lines and factories. The casualty: people lost their individuality and became cogs in machines. Simple tasks mean cheap labor, and cheaper labor elsewhere means lost jobs for some, exploitative job for others.

Godin argues that the new economy, the Information economy, has restored individuality and creativity to the marketplace because it emphasizes idea creation and manipulation. Cogs don’t create. They do what they’re told. Machines are programmed to follow instructions. Factories manufacture to specifications.

But the newness of the Age requires us to create maps, not follow directions that worked for earlier generations. Those who embrace the opportunity by making themselves indispensable will not only generate job security for themselves but give joy to those around them.

Godin contends that to become indispensable (a “Linchpin”) in this new economy, people must rediscover the artistry within them, and embrace new platforms to generate and distribute their art. He both demystifies art, claiming that it’s not just paintings and music and theater, and expands it to include anything that requires emotional energy, transcends a job description, and gives a gift to the recipient that outlasts a transaction. By this definition, art includes a smile. A sincere welcome. A remembered name. A recommendation that doesn’t enhance the bottom line. A relational connection, no strings attached.

To theologize the idea (this is, after all, a ministry blog), linchpins rediscover their imago dei and join their Creator on the creative mission he began in the beginning. Linchpins “forget the former things, and do not dwell on the past, but perceive the new things

1. “If there is a map or a set of rules, reject it. You will not get paid fairly if all you do is follow the rules.”

2. “What you must do is [create] generous art, gifts that change people, connect with people, lead with people, make change that matters.”3. “Ship it.”

3. “Treat the platform as an opportunity to give gifts and make change, not something to survive to get to tomorrow.”

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