As a children’s ministry leader, you’ve likely taken numerous training courses, attended refresher workshops, ventured out on retreats, and so on. But has anyone ever shared hard-learned kidmin leadership insights with you? Review the children’s ministry leadership lessons below. I’ll bet a few might even surprise you!
5 Essential Children’s Ministry Leadership Lessons
1. The Most Important Person in Your Ministry Is…YOU.
I know, that sounds kind of self-centered. And it’s certainly not the attitude a church leader should have, right? But if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t last very long.
Ministry is very difficult. In fact, I encourage you to read this post by Eugene Cho titled Death by Ministry? If you’ve been in ministry very long, you’ll understand what he’s talking about. After all, the Bible says we (as believers) are in a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12). And who better for Satan 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. It’s one of the most challenging but most important children’s ministry leadership lessons.
You can plan self-care in a variety of ways. Just find one that works for you! I base mine on a Bible verse you’ve probably heard. Luke 2:52 says, “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 constant evaluate my own personal growth and health. That verse from Luke covers all the areas.
4 Key Areas of Self-Care
- 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 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 about children’s ministry, leadership, business and, the last few years, technology (Fast Company & Wired magazines are great for this).
- Physically – The older I get, the more I realize the importance of my health. Unless I’m regularly engaged in exercise, I can’t possibly be at my best in ministry. Nor will I be able to engage with my family as I ought to. More than likely, they’ll get my scraps when I’m tired and rundown. I must have a plan and be willing to set aside time to exercise, eat well, and get the sleep I need. You’re fooling yourself if you think you can ignore your body (i.e., your “temple,” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
- Spiritually – I love 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’re being intentional about your time in the Word and 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. We must 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 our ministries. As spouses and parents, we need 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’s so hard because of ministry’s demands. But I challenge you to create a plan to keep yourself healthy. Commit to it in terms of your time, energy, and resources (for at least 6 months). Then see how things change. If this has been an area of weakness, you might need to create some accountability.
If you stick to your plan to take care of yourself, then those around you—from family to friends to ministry colleagues—will benefit from your commitment.