I really wish I had an amazing formula to generate continuous energy and enthusiasm for the challenging work of children's ministry. Let's face it- the work is constant, demanding and endless.
Special events and programs are rewarding but exhausting, and preparations for regular mid-week and Sunday programs still continue.
So..what happens when your motivation wanes and enthusiasm dips?
Make sure that you are maintaining your time with God and His Word and your prayertime. Ensure you are allowing yourself some downtime, some time for yourself. Don't fill every waking moment with activity.
As a leader, you must ensure that you are spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically replenished. You need to fill your own tank before you can effectively give to others! KidsKount produce some bite-sized (2 minute) video segments to help you do just that... Lead yourself! It's worth checking out..
But it's also helpful to keep in mind that energy and enthusiasm is not required before you start working. In fact, hard work comes before the feeling of enthusiasm. Motivation is largely a myth.. it's activity that inspires us. Don't waste time waiting for enthusiasm to return; work harder even it you don't feel like it. You'll find your motivation returns as you accomplish those tasks you've set yourself. Stay faithful to the work God has given to you to do. And, praise Him as soon as your motivation catches up.
I don't sing because I'm happy. I'm happy because I sing.
We overestimate what we can do in the next year... and underestimate what we can do in the next 15 minutes.
But, on a practical note, there are some things you can do that will help you complete your tasks:
1. Exercise. 15 minutes a day exercise will help you have more energy and be more productive.
2. Many find it helpful, sometimes, to work away from the usual working environment. Go to the library.. spend the morning at a coffee shop.
3. Play some background music.
4. Make use of the many task management programs and apps to keep focused. I've listed some of the popular ones below:
* Wunderlist: simple to-do lists, works on all platforms, tasks can be shared, create tasks from email
* Toodledo: powerful task and note-taker app, add reminders, repeats, alarms, add to folders, filter, tag and tweet your completed tasks
* Astrid: cloud sync, voice recognition, share tasks, email intergration, add to calendar
* Remember the milk. Simple list creation, available across platforms
* Priorities. Create tasks and sub-tasks, lists, calendar integration, templates, repeating tasks,
Earlier this week, we were flooded in. The aftermath of ex-cyclone Oswald caused wide-spread flooding to a large part of south-east Queensland and although our home was high and dry, we were certainly affected. Roads were impassable, electricity was cut, phone and internet coverage was down. I had no way of contacting my family and no way of determining their safety, circumstances or needs. I was totally isolated.
If you work in children's ministry you can not function in isolation.You need to connect with others- your church families and the community, your team and a wider ministry network. You need to develop 'Relationships', the second element of our F.R.E.S.H. approach to children's ministry. Building relationships is an integral part of a thriving ministry. So.. how do you go about it? Check out these 3 areas and click through to the practical suggestions and ideas.
The start of a new year brings its own excitement and challenges: the anticipation of seeing anew God working in the lives of children, families and volunteers, with new ideas and exciting programs to launch and new opportunities to glimpse the wonder of little ones learning about our great and loving God. But, there are also the difficulties of working in a ministry area that is time and labour intensive, the ever-present admin tasks, the danger of becoming over-stressed, exhausted, of feeling over-whelmed and left gasping for air.
This year, start with a F.R.E.S.H. approach to your children's ministry. Over the next few posts, I'll highlight five aspects of your ministry and provide you with some practical strategies. Establishing some simple but sustaining tools will equip you to handle the pressures and demands of ministry. Finally, in conclusion to this series of posts, I hope to complete and provide you with some practical worksheets to assist in your planning and organisation. But first.....
1. FOCUS. Make sure that you begin this year with a clear and concrete understanding of both your role and your vision. Many children's ministry directors or coordinators find themselves in a role that has developed apace with their growing ministry. Now, while this is understandable, there are clearly some concerns here. A children's ministry director may discover that there are unspoken expectations of them that are beyond their capabilities in both time and resources. A job description is a necessity. If you don't have one, ask for one and if you have one, read it carefully and ask for clarification if you're at all uncertain about any aspects of your role. A job description ensures that both you and the church leadership are clear about your role and your responsibilities. It also means that you can sensibly plan and structure your time and commitments in alignment with your role.
Your job description will probably begin with a definition similar to the following: 'The Children's Ministry director/coordinator is responsible for overseeing all aspects of a growing children’s ministry and to ensure a smooth operating, safe and effective program. The director will recruit and train leaders and teachers who will touch children’s lives with God’s love and teach them God’s Word while laying a spiritual foundation for their relationship with Christ and teaching them to serve within the church. The director will also be a spiritual leader to those working in this ministry and provide training and encouragement to parents, equipping them to be the primary spiritual leader of their children.' It can seem a little daunting, but don't panic. Following this, you should find a list of practical expectations. Read it all carefully as this will provide you with helpful assistance in your planning and preparation. It provides you with the information you need to determine your specific areas of responsibility for children, families, volunteers and wider church family.
But you also need to focus on your ministry vision. Do you have one? Is it clear to everyone? Is it included in all your ministry materials? Your ministry vision provides a yardstick for current and future ministry programs and outreach? Are these in alignment with our vision and focus? Then, they can be grow and developed. If not, it may be something that other ministry leaders would like to pursue. Do your leaders and volunteers know and share the ministry vision? Do your volunteers and leaders have a strong sense of purpose and direction? Not sure? Take this quiz from Children's Ministry to find out. Here...
Then, take some time to read further:
* Children's Ministry that Works! The basics and beyond. Group
Overflowing with expert insights from ministry leaders.
* Piece by Piece- Unlocking the puzzle for an effective ministry to today's children. Tammy Tolman
Includes study questions and action steps
* Making your Children's Ministry the Best Hour of Every Week. Sue Miller with David Staal
Insights that can reshape your whole approach to children's ministry and cast a new vision for everyone involved.
The commencement of a new year is a great time to refocus in ministry and ensure that you begin where and how you mean to continue. So, I've included a small list from Dale Hudson (relevantchildrensministry.com) of 10 Top Leadership Tips for Children's Ministry. It's actually a list that would be relevant for any ministry and a great list to consider to ensure that your life and ministry is in balance as you begin 2012.
10 Leadership Tips for Children's Ministry
1. Who you are is more important than what you do.
2. Make people skills one of your priority growth areas.
3. People don't follow a title.. they follow someone they love and respect.
4. There will always be someone who is not happy with your decision.. accept it and don't try to appease everyone.
5. It's not what you can do; it's what you can empower others to do.
6. Learn from everyone.. everywhere... everyday.
7. When hiring, look at what someone has done in the past. Location doesn't change people. Past performance usually indicates future performance.
8. Take your day off and use your vacation time. Your future in ministry depends on it.
9. Your greates ministry is at home.
10. Details done well make the plan gel.
While the start of the year produces the rush to buy calendars and reorganise our lives, we also need to take some time to focus on a more important aspect of our lives and our ministries. "We have schedule planners, computerized calendars and self-stick notes to help us organise our business and social lives every day, but what about organising the other side of our lives- the spiritual side? Tempted to give imbalanced attention to the public world at the expense of the private, we become involved in more programs, more meetings. Our massive responsibilities at home, work and church have resulted in a lot of good people on the verge of collapse. Gordon MacDonald's book Ordering YOur Private World equips a new generation to live life from the inside out, cultivating the inner victory necessary for public effectiveness." Find it in our online store.
'Building Church Leaders' has prepared a downloadable resource in their 'Practical Ministry Skills' area- Spiritual Disciplines for Busy Church Leaders. It's so easy to get lost in the frantic pace of ministry that sometimes we neglect our own spiritual lives. The practice of personal spiritual disciplines invigorates your personal relationships with God was well as your ministry. Download it for yourself or to present to your ministry team.
Pack includes: Hurried Sick (John Ortberg), An Introduction to Solitude (Henri Nouwen), Finding a Steady Rhythm and more.....
Download the pack from Building Church Leaders now and use the code 'BESTOF2010' to receive a 25% discount.