Home Children's Ministry Leaders Articles for Children's Ministry Leaders 5 Critical Children’s Ministry Leadership Lessons

5 Critical Children’s Ministry Leadership Lessons

1.  The Most Important Person in Your Ministry Is … YOU.

I know, it sounds kind of self-centered doesn’t it? Certainly not the attitude a pastor should be taking! Here’s what I mean: As a leader in the church, if you don’t choose to take care of yourself, you won’t be a leader in the church very long.

Ministry is difficult…very difficult. In fact, I would encourage you to read this post over on Eugene Cho’s site called Death By Ministry?. If you’ve been in ministry for very long you’ll have an understanding of what he’s talking about. And it makes sense. After all, the Bible says we (as believers) are in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12), and who better to take out than the “leaders” in that battle?

With that in mind, the person you need to take care of first is yourself. And that requires being intentional. Doing it on purpose…with a clear plan.

There’s lots of ways to plan self-care—find one that works for you. For me, I’ve tried to keep it simple and base it on a little verse that you’ve probably heard of that talks about Jesus. It’s Luke 2:52 and it goes like this: Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.

The best way I know to protect myself and keep from stagnating is to grow. I need to constantly be evaluating my own personal growth and health, and this little verse covers all the areas, including:

  • Mentally – Am I growing in knowledge and wisdom? What’s my plan to do this? The single greatest way I’ve grown in this area is through reading. At first it was overwhelming—I tried to read everything all at once and ended up reading very little. Then, early on in my ministry, I committed to reading just one chapter a day. It’s amazing how many books you can read in a year (about 25 if each book averages 15 chapters). Reading keeps me up to date, thinking and challenged. I read on children’s ministry, leadership, business and, the last few years, technology (Fast Company & Wired magazine are great for this).
  • Physically – The older I get, the more I realize the importance of my health. If I am not actively and regularly engaged in exercise, I can’t possibly be at my best in ministry, plain and simple. Nor will I be able to engage with my family as I ought to—they will more than likely get my scraps when I am tired and rundown. I must have a plan and be willing to set aside time to exercise, to be careful what I eat and to get the sleep I need. You are fooling yourself if you think you can ignore your body (or, as the Bible calls it, your “temple”: I Corinthians 6:19-20).
  • Spiritually – I love that the verse says that Jesus grew “in favor with God.” What an inspiration—and aspiration! Here’s what I’ve learned, though: We ministry types can live and breathe “spirituality” so much that our own spiritual lives, our own faith walk, becomes part of our job. Don’t let that happen. Your spiritual growth should be fresh and new and invigorating every day. Don’t let writing that VBS lesson become your devotions for today. Don’t let prepping the talk for Kids Church become your time with God. Sure, any time in the Word is great, but make sure you are being intentional about YOUR time in the Word and in prayer. My ministry should naturally flow from my time spent with God, not vice-versa.
  • Relationally – Our ministry should be all about relationships. Ministry happens best in the context of relationships {tweet this}. We need to grow in our ability to build relationships as leaders. We also need to have healthy relationships in other areas. As men and women, we should have deep and meaningful friendships with others outside of our ministries. As spouses and parents, we need to have healthy relationships within our families (that’s a whole book, so I’ll just mention it here).

Growing personally and being healthy in all these areas must be a priority for any children’s ministry leader. It is so hard because of the demands of ministry. But here is what I would challenge you to do: Create a plan to keep yourself healthy (what I’ve mentioned here are just a few ideas to get you started), commit to it in terms of your time, energy and resources (commit to at least 6 months), and see how things change. You might need to create some accountability if this has been an area of weakness for you.

I think it is pretty safe to say that, if you stick to your plan to take care of yourself, then those around you—from your family to your friends to your ministry colleagues—will benefit from your commitment.

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gbaird@churchleaders.com'
Greg Baird is a Children’s Ministry veteran with over 20 years ministry experience. Greg has had the privilege of serving in four San Diego area churches, including under the leadership of both John Maxwell and David Jeremiah. He continues to fulfill his life calling through the ministry of ChildrensMinistryLeader.com, offering an experienced voice in equipping and connecting Children’s Ministry leaders around the country and around the world.