Odyssey Guide – a metaphor for ministry

Youth Min

One of the very weird things about writing books is that sometimes you see them quoted back at you when you are marking students work  and what you may have written several years ago hits you afresh.  One of my favourite pieces of writing is based around the metaphor of an odyssey guide and it seems a particularly apt metaphor during advent when we think of so many journeys.  I was always fascinated by the Greek myths and the story of Odysseus but the notion of an odyssey as “a long and eventful or adventurous journey or process” is one which aptly describes my faith journey.  I wrote (with one of our graduates) about how we are odyssey guides to young people but I think it is just as useful in my role as a priest.

This is passage from the chapter I am reflecting on today:

If we are to be effective odyssey guides we need to be aware of our own journey. Each of us has been on a journey and have arrived at the place we are now.  For some it will have been hard work depending on what social and emotional circumstances have created along the way, but it is clear that life and all its wonders will present challenges that call us to change. Challenges faced can include so many different things, for example:

  • taking on too much personal responsibility for things outside of our control or for other people;
  • trying to get other people to see the world as we see it rather than celebrating the way that they see it;
  • feeling that we are lost or far away from God when he promises to never leave us;
  • allowing fear to overtake us rather than trusting in God;
  • forgetting we are human and are allowed to fail or have a bad day;
  • feeling lonely and isolated because of our lack of self worth or willingness to accept the love offered by others;
  • putting up walls or barriers to others because of all the hurt we have experienced.

We will be on our journey towards wholeness as we encourage others in theirs (Nash and Palmer 2011:104-5).


Odyssey Guide  Sally Nash and Bev Palmer in Youth Ministry:  a multi-faceted approach.  Sally Nash (ed) London:  SPCK, 2011, pp. 98-107.



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