Way back in January of 2003, I began my job as the “Minister to Children.” I had never heard of such a thing before and didn’t know anyone who was doing that job to give me some tips, (I looked, believe me, but it was not as easy in the pre-social media days).
Looking back, there are some things I wish I had known. Maybe you’re brand new or you’ve been around a while, but are looking for some direction. Whether your title is “Children’s Director” or “Children’s Pastor” or something else all together, here are the top five things I wish I’d known as a rookie children’s minister.
1. Treat this job like a career and a calling, not a temporary distraction (even it if ends up being that).
I don’t know exactly that I thought my job would be temporary, but I did not understand when I started that God had called me to it. Before this year (that’s 2018, folks), my decision to stay at this job was more a result of “well, this makes sense to work here” than, “I feel a deep calling to be here.” This year, however (I’m a slow learner), I realized that was my calling from God. All the things that “made sense” for me to do it were the reasons why He had called me to do it. Realizing that allowed me to finally embrace it (better late than never, I guess).
Don’t make my mistake, embrace your calling and don’t look for the “next thing.” This is a great thing, what you’re doing. Children’s Ministry is vitally important! As long as God has called you to it, give it your all. And, honestly, I pray He has called you to it for a good long time, because I believe it is worth spending your career doing.
2. Remember, God has equipped you for this!
Think about what skills you have. Do you know how to decorate amazing spaces? Do you do magic tricks? Play music? Whatever you are skilled at, use those things to add strength to your ministry. God has equipped you in a unique way, so why not use it to make your ministry unique? Use what God gave you! I have always enjoyed writing, especially creative writing and our ministry has been punctuated by silly skits and funny videos that make use of this skill. What about you? What unique thing can you add to your Children’s Department?
3. Don’t try to copy what someone else is doing, do your thing.
There are a hundred people doing a hundred different things. Do your thing. Have you ever seen a horse with blinders on? Those little things on the side of their head keep them from seeing things in their peripheral vision. It keeps them focused on the area ahead of them, so they don’t get scared, frustrated or distracted. Keep your blinders on to what others are doing. Keep your eyes focused on God and what He wants you to do. You will see what others are doing and that’s O.K. You might get some tips you can use here and there, but beware from copying someone else’s ministry. Do what God would have you to do in your ministry at your church. Focus on what He wants and head in that direction. Your ministry will be a success if you do that!
4. Realize you can’t please everyone, so don’t try.
In your job, you absolutely have to focus on pleasing God and pleasing your pastor (or whoever your boss or bosses are). You are responsible to your authorities for what you do. Be conscientious about pleasing your bosses, especially the Big Boss—God. After that, you can respectfully listen to complaints and problems and lovingly try to deal with concerns as they come up. But, in the end, what matters is that you have pleased those who are in authority over you. There are always going to be people who don’t like things about your ministry. Show grace to them, but if you know you’re pleasing God and your pastors, you don’t really have to worry about anyone else (I mean that in the most respectful way possible).
5. Be easy on yourself!
I can hear my husband chuckling as I write this, because this is what he has tried to tell me for the last decade and a half I have been in my position at church. I may not always take his advice, but I can recognize that it is good advice and pass it on to you, as well. So, cut yourself some slack. You are learning and there will be a learning curve—many of them along the way. Slowly, but surely, you will learn the job and become good at it. To become excellent requires 5 years of full time work, at least, and even then, you will make mistakes. Learn from them and use them to improve. Show yourself the grace you would show others.
So, there you have it, ladies and gents. I am no expert, I am just a gal who has done this for a little while and learned a thing or two. What tips would you have for a rookie Children’s Minister? Share them in the comments below.