By necessity, ministry – children’s & family, in particular – requires us to lead in perhaps the hardest leadership arena possible: the volunteer arena. However, whether volunteer or paid staff, leaders are leaders, and we need to focus our attention on them in order to accomplish our grand vision.
Easier said than done! But here’s a framework I have found successful for leading leaders:
1. Engage them.
Keys to engaging leaders include:
• Simply building relationships for the sake of relationships. Get to know them and love them as individuals first.
• Find out what makes them tick – what excites them? what are their skills & experiences? what are they passionate about? what makes them angry & what makes them cry?
• Begin to align their passions with the vision you are pursuing.
2. Equip them.
Too often we think of equipping as happening after they’ve committed to serving. Not so! Equipping begins with casting our grand vision for ministry and helping them see how their gifts, experience & passions align with that vision.
• Link what makes them tick with how it can help accomplish he vision.
• Be specific in calling them to a commitment to investing their skills in the defined vision.
• Fill in any deficiencies in their skills, abilities, resources, etc. to help them be successful.
3. Empower them.
My job as a children’s pastor/director (or whatever my title happens to be) is to give ministry away so that I can focus as much as possible on what only I can do.
• Once equipped, let leaders run!
• Accept that they will not always do things the way you would do things (I’ve found they usually do it better!).
• Be available & intentional about keeping their efforts focused toward pursuing the defined vision for the ministry…you are the key leader responsible for accomplishing the vision, so help them to stay on track.
4. Encourage them.
Don’t ever, ever, ever give away part of your ministry and assume “they’re good” without regularly encouraging them. Too many times I’ve assumed it’s “all good”, only to have a key leader come and say it’s time to step aside. Almost always I’ve looked back and found that I left them on an island and they’ve just gotten tired, discouraged or frustrated.
Encourage them often, even when you don’t think they really need it! Find what pushed their “atta’ boy” button (a private pat on the back, kind words of appreciation, public recognition, a gift, etc.) and keep pushing it.
5. Enjoy them.
Yes, enjoy them! They are brothers & sisters in Christ. They are friends. They are allies. They’re on your team. And they have families, challenges, good times, issues, heart break, and so much more – just like you.
• Enjoy their relationships and treat them as peers – not just someone who is helping you accomplish a great vision.
• Remember that it’s about discipleship with the adults in our ministry, too! Parents & leaders are growing in their faith, and we have a tremendous opportunity to invest in them spiritually, and they in you.
• These people are you natural “community”, as well. Allow them into your life & don’t let yourself live on a ministry island.