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  • Writer's pictureWayne Morgan

Naked, overdressed, or business casual?

Don't be dismissed because you refuse to dress up.

I intentionally underdress. I fear alienating students who don’t have fancy clothing. I buy clothing without brand names, wear my shirt untucked, and usually have jeans or shorts on. When an adult tells me that I need to dress up, I have to admit that I have been known to resist that expectation.

But a few years ago I was asked to be part of a leadership course within my community. I was shocked at how professional people dressed! At first, I resisted the desire to dress up and I started to throw out my normal argument of, "well, I work with teenagers" but I realized that I was talking with a high school teacher. 

We must realize that we are offered many opportunities for new introductions to leaders within our communities.  Many of these leaders are desperately seeking brilliant, capable men and women who can take their communities to a higher level, but they have dismissed the church as part of this pursuit. You may meet them in a dressed down environment during the summer, but school will be different. Don't be excused because of your lack of professionalism.

"Many highly intelligent, well-qualified, capable men and women are often disqualified or dismissed because 'they don't sell for what they're worth,'" says Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc., and author of Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results. “It is critically important to be aware of dress codes, understand what they mean, and follow them."

Some objections that I’ve heard about dressing up:

  1. It’s not my style.Don’t allow your identity to be directly connected with style. I’ve been convicted in my life that the Apostle Paul’s challenge to be “all things” doesn’t stop at the age of 25. If I must set aside my style to tell more people about Jesus, then I just beg God to use even this tie for His glory!

  2. I don’t have dress clothes.This is simple. Buy some. I’m not advocating that you need to purchase a new wardrobe; I’m encouraging you to expand your versatility. Besides, you may think that it’s cutting-edge to wear jeans and a t-shirt to a funeral, but your just destroying your credibility.

  3. I don’t need to impress adults. I hear this a LOT from youth workers and it is FALSE. You are part of an elaborate tapestry of relationships, in whose midst you are called to be a spiritual advocate for the souls of teenagers. Don’t allow your calling to be dismissed because you don’t sell for what your worth.

  4. God told Isaiah to go naked, so being underdressed is ok. Don’t laugh, an adult told me this… seriously. If this is your logic, then I have noadvice for you.

So as a youth worker, please don’t discourage GREAT relationships with high quality people because of your style. Our world is in desperate need of leadership. Style is simply one asset in helping spread the good news of Jesus to ALL of the world.

Not sure what business attire is? Check out this link:

Wayne Morgan is the Northeast Regional Coordinator for NNYM. You can follow Wayne on Twitter @waykarmor. Blog was originally posted on

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