Published: September 29, 2023
Do you want to improve your leadership skills? Take these four pieces of advice from other children’s ministry leaders like you!
4 Pieces of Advice to Improve Your Leadership Skills
1. Leadership Means Influence
I count myself blessed to grow up with awesome parents who never shied away from calling out my strengths and weaknesses. I knew from early on that I had natural leadership abilities and that I was really good at bossing people around, especially my little sisters.
As I grew up and moved into a full-time position as a children’s pastor, I learned that leadership was most definitely not just about telling people what to do; it was about inspiring, challenging, and truly leading them. This didn’t come naturally to me, but through the years I had mentors who helped me learn what true leadership looks like.
Using Your Influence
One thing I’ve discovered is that leading often looks less like me using my mouth and more like me using my influence. Sometimes I’ve wanted to stand up and tell other leaders what they did wrong. But God, in his graciousness, began to show me to lead by example instead. Verses like Exodus 14:14: “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm,” and Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God,” have challenged and frustrated me. I dislike being still and quiet, but I also love and trust Jesus, so I’ve learned to apply these verses.
I’ve decided to lead my department and my volunteers to the very best of my ability, whether or not anyone notices. I’ve developed teams, inspired, shepherded, and led (rather than “bossing”). Little did I know that by leading my area well, it would attract and influence other areas of ministry. This kind of leading inspires in all directions—up, across, and down. My influence and example have been what people have noticed long before they were ever willing to hear my voice.
I encourage you to lead through influence in the role where God placed you. Is God calling you to be a little quieter and a little more still? It’s not easy, but you just might be surprised at the influence God gives you.
2. Leverage the Power of Remembering
One of the epidemics of this generation is what I call a spiritual amnesia. (When we forget our God-given identity, we behave from a place of misplaced identity.) Reminding volunteers who God created them to be is a key to mobilizing your volunteer. In Isaiah 46:8-9, God says twice, “Remember.” The power of our memory is the very tool God uses to encourage and strengthen us.
When volunteers believe they’re sinners because they sin, remind them they’re saints (declared righteous by God) who sin. When volunteers believe their identities come from what they’ve done, remind them their identities come from what God’s done for them. And when volunteers believe their identities come from what others say about them, remind them their identities come from what God says. These are the people leading the children in your ministry, so it’s crucial to use your leadership skills to first lead them to truth.
3. Leading Without Recognition
Being a children’s minister requires every skill that being a senior pastor requires. Knowledge of this reality can be a thrilling challenge and a potential pitfall. As middle managers, many children’s ministers find it hard to live under the shadow of the senior leader. They can create their own schedules; you can’t. They gets gifts on Pastor Appreciation Day; you don’t.
However, demanding attention as a leader is one of the biggest turn-offs imaginable. Leaders who beg for appreciation are leaders in the process of losing their effectiveness, their authority, and perhaps their job.
Instead, consider who you’re working for. Rest in the comfort of being the son or daughter “in whom he’s well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, KJV). Stop striving for human accolades, and seek God’s “Well done” (Matthew 25:21). Look around. Are people following you? Then you’re an effective leader. And those you’re influencing know and appreciate it.
4. Building a Network to Get Things Done
Intentional collaboration focuses on building a network of talented individuals who can share their knowledge and experience to assist you professionally. In today’s hyper-connected world, learning to collaborate with purpose and set up a network can advance your ministry, expand your leadership skills, and help you overcome obstacles.
First, identify individuals at in-person events, conferences, X (formerly Twitter) chats, LinkedIn, and Facebook groups with expertise in human resources, communication, leadership, and project management. Think about the challenges you face, the direction you want to go, and gaps in your abilities; then seek out people with expertise in those areas.
Have a plan to connect live with those actively engaged in your network a couple of times a year. With intentional collaboration, your network will be focused on your professional responsibilities and differ from a social network, which consists of family, friends, and few extraneous contacts.
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