As leaders in Children’s & Family Ministry, we are typically (and rightfully) focused on our department. But, as with any organization, there’s a bigger picture that we work within. Understanding this is critical, not only because we are contributing to the success (or failure) of the bigger vision, but it directly impacts the success (or failure) of our own area of service.
There are many angles to approach our engagement with the “bigger picture” of our church. I believe one of the most important is how we serve our leaders. This includes the senior/lead pastor, the executive pastor (if your church has one), any other leader “above” your level, and even elders/board members who serve in leadership roles in your church.
What should they expect from you as you lead Children’s & Family Ministry? Here’s a few ideas:
5 Things Church Leadership Should Expect From You
This might be old fashioned, but I believe loyalty is critical. Not “blind” loyalty, but true loyalty. Loyalty is defined as:
faithfulness to commitments or obligations; allegiance to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc.”
The way I like to think of it is that “I’ve got your back.” By this I mean I’m not going to do anything – or allow anything – that will undermine anything you do or say. If I’ve got a problem, I’m going to handle it with you directly and appropriately. If someone is talking bad about you, or about an initiative you’ve put out there, I’m going to steer them in a different direction and I’m certainly not going to join in. If I don’t understand something, I’m going to assume the best until I know otherwise, and then I’m going to handle it appropriately.
Loyalty is critical in ministry and, frankly, if you can’t be loyal to your leadership, you should have enough integrity to resign.
Yep…I said that and I mean it.
2. Hard work.
OK, with a birthday coming up that involves larger numbers than I ever dreamed of, I’ve got to say that I’ve officially joined the “Old Guys Rule” club. Which probably also means I have to work at understanding today’s young adults. But seriously, I don’t understand people who aren’t willing to work hard and yes, I see a lot of young adults that don’t seem to have much interest in working hard.
Working hard just means that you put in your best effort at whatever it is you’ve been tasked to do. It benefits YOU as much as it benefits anyone else over the long haul. More importantly, God tells us to work hard:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men… Colossians 3:23
Communication is critical to any relationship, and it’s no different with your church leaders. I always encourage children’s & family ministry leaders to find ways to take initiative in communicating with church leaders. Why not:
- send a weekly or monthly email summarizing your ministry? Make it brief; make it positive (this is not where you complain); tell stories; relate what’s important to your leaders.
- take your church leaders to coffee or lunch just to share what’s happening, and to hear what’s happening in their lives & area of service?
- get creative in communicating in ways that work in your environment?
4. Ministry Leadership
As I mentioned in #3, you’ve been placed in your role for a reason. I trust & assume you feel called to it and that your church leaders believe you are called to it. If this is the case, then you certainly have a responsibility to LEAD your ministry. Yes, it must be managed well, but leading means things like:
- you have a vision for for your ministry (that’s aligned with the overall vision of the church)
- you are committed to equipping & developing leaders, not just recruiting followers
- you are willing to make the hard decisions & solve problems when they arise
5. Self Management
My heart breaks when I (often) come across young leaders who are passionate about their calling and sincerely invested in their work, but haven’t yet learned how to manage themselves. I’ve been in those shoes! It’s no wonder most seminary graduates are out of ministry within 5 years. As Ed Young says, ministry is “brutiful”, and when we don’t manage ourselves well, it leans heavily toward “brutal” rather than “beautiful.
Your church leaders can structure your work environment to help in this area, but ultimately you have to claim responsibility for managing yourself. In honor to God, yourself, your family and, yes, your leaders, this is critical.
Here are a few things to pay attention to, in no particular order:
- Time & money: I’ve told the story before how I learned from my former leader, John Maxwell, that you can pretty easily determine a person’s priorities by looking at their check book & their calendar. How do you spend your time & money? If it’s a challenge, get a mentor to help you figure it out.
- Family: if you’ve been in children’s ministry for very long, then you’ve no doubt heard our friend Jim Wideman say that we cannot “sacrifice our families on the altar of our ministries.” I don’t really need to add anything to that to make the point…yet it amazes me how often I see families being sacrificed.
- Personal development: what’s your plan to grow? If you don’t have a plan, you won’t grow, period.
- Spiritual growth: are you reading your Bible? Are you actually worshiping (not just attending church as your job)? How’s your prayer life? If the Holy Spirit were removed from your life & ministry, how long would it take to notice?
- Health: the Bible says that physical exercise profits little..but there IS profit to it. The Bible says our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit…are you treating it as such? This is an area of real challenge for me – sweet tooth + dislike of exercise + type A focus on ministry = neglected health! But the older I get the more I realize it’s importance. For the sake of yourself, your family and your ministry, don’t neglect your health – you have permission to take care of yourself!
Do you agree? What would you add?
(please share your thoughts in the comments below)