Joel Stepanek Challenges Students About Worship, About Knowing Their Worth


Meghan Yakel, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Notre Dame Academy had a special speaker on Thursday, March 8, during the time of their prayer service scheduled day. Joel Stepanek spoke to the students about Jesus, worshiping the right things and knowing their worth.

“I travel around and talk about Jesus, but in a much deeper context,” Stepanek said.

He has been dedicated to ministry for over ten years. What started as an internship in a parish youth ministry office later expanded to much greater opportunities. He is now the Director of Resource Development for Life Teen.

Life Teen is a movement within the Roman Catholic Church whose aim is to lead  teenagers and their families into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. Stepanek speaks to middle schoolers, high schoolers and college students as well as their parents about a multitude of topics regarding the church and Jesus Christ.

He has written two books, “The Greatest Job on Earth: Seven Virtues of an Incredible Youth Minister” and “True North: A Roadmap for Discernment.” Stepanek, who now lives in Arizona, grew up in Wisconsin and is a huge Packer fan who “loves cooking, weightlifting and reading whatever book I can get my hands on.”

“Most important, I love spending time with my wife Colleen, and my two children, Elijah Daniel and Sophia Grace. They are my greatest adventure,” he added.

“He was very energetic and passionate about the subject matter. He made sure everyone was listening by capturing the audience right away,” Administrative Assistant Margaret Yakel said.

At the beginning of his presentation, Stepanek told the audience to think of the three most important things in their life. “Now if you wrote down every second of your day, would it match up with what you value most?” he asked. “Some people say their top priority is their family, but then they don’t ever spend any time with their family,” he reiterated.

He went on about how people always worship the wrong things and that becomes their identity. Some people worship money, some worship status, some worship a relationship and that becomes how people view them.

“We are all made for a purpose. That purpose is to worship something. Once we get that thing everything falls into place. If you are made in the image and likeness of God, God fulfills that.”

Stepanek ended his presentation with a retelling of the prodigal son and older brother story in Luke 15 and a call to honesty before God:  “If you’re not fine, don’t be fine. God is big enough to handle the brokenhearted.”

After leaving the school, Stepanek tweeted the following:  “It was such an honor to speak with the students at @TritonsNDA today. Great school and great teenagers.”