Cat Sheldrake

Cat is a CYM graduate. She finished a BA (Hons) Youth and Community Work with Practical Theology (JNC) in June 2015.

Setting goals, New Year’s resolutions, smart targets, and bucket lists; we’ve all written them. But how many of them do we actually follow through? I completed my degree in Youth and community work and applied theology with CYM back in June15. In our final term, we reflected on how much we’d developed over the three year course, and wrote a list outlining five important things we wanted to “take with us into our next job” in order to continue our development.

I’m going to share my list with you and tell you, as honestly as I can, how successful (or otherwise) this CYM Graduate has been at taking that theory out into the real world.

1) Get more involved with the local council and local schools and keep up to date with social policy.

As far as involvement with the local council goes, err I’m going to have to admit I haven’t made any contact. Life has been busier than I expected and other things have taken priority. School involvement however has been a lot more successful with assemblies in the Primary School and Christian Union in the high school. As for Social Policy… I watch the News.

2) Continue to exercise faith in leadership through taking risks when God leads me to.

Hmmm, this point is a hard one to evaluate as I am no longer the lead youth worker but serve instead as part of a team. I guess I feel that a lot of the youth work I am doing now is within my comfort zone. Maybe I need to seek out some new challenges as faith and risk was a big part of my personal spiritual development throughout the course.

3) Trust God’s plan – even in hard times.

Thinking back over the last three years I’m reminded how trustworthy God is. He has delivered time and time again. Yes, He is faithful, and I have not forgotten this. I am so grateful to be where I am now, and whenever I find myself wondering what’s next I know that it’s all in His hands.

4) Practical skills in building relationships, community work, developing service and creative relevant teaching.

The practical skills I’ve learnt through applying theory to practice on my CYM placement have certainly come in useful, in both Christian youth work and in the day to day work I do at a Christian outdoor activity centre.

5) Sustaining spiritual disciplines and time out with God.

I thought I’d nailed this in the first six weeks of work, as I was on track with daily readings, fellowship group, church, running (this is a great way of taking time out with God), and even extra Bible readings on some days. But then…one busy week, winter weather and shorter days hit (that makes a big difference when you work at an outdoor centre) and I just seemed to lose my rhythm.

It would have been nice to tell you that it had all been plain sailing, and that I’d achieved all that I set out to do at the end of my degree. In reality things can turn out differently to how we imagine they will and new goals can take priority.

But my experience with CYM has taught me how important it is to be a reflective practitioner, and that regularly reviewing these goals and adjusting them to meet my current situation, enables me to be constantly developing my faith and to be effective in my work.