If you are reading this, you are probably a leader of leaders. You have the privilege and challenge of encouraging people who serve under your leadership to come equipped, prepared, and ready to serve! Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 10:14 to “shake the dust off your feet” if anyone does not receive you in peace. When Jews returned to Israel from pagan lands, “Gentile dirt” was considered too unholy for the Promised Land. They would literally shake it off their feet and move on, declaring the dirt to be unworthy of the land of God’s people. How can this wisdom be used with the servant leaders you lead each week?
Volunteers, teachers, leaders, and others who serve the church bring a variety of burdens, heartaches, baggage, and sin with them each week. We all do. We live in a fallen world and we are broken. Even so, our hearts need to be right before we walk into a room of children to teach them the gospel. Therefore, challenge your leaders to “shake the dust from their feet” before coming to serve; encourage them to leave the “unholy dirt” at the door. If they are unable to do that, they may not be in a season to serve.
The enemy would love for us to “pick up some dirt” and become complainers, critics, and simply jaded while serving. For example, if the supplies aren’t ready, if other volunteers are late, if parents are snarky, or if children aren’t cooperating (surely, that would never happen!), then you may have leaders who easily succumb to negativity while serving. It’s also important to ask your leaders to “dust their feet” before leaving after they serve.
I’ve used this verse and analogy before during VBS. Each day, I distributed a sheet for volunteers to write down any complaints, suggestions, things that went wrong, etc. and then leave it in a basket at the door. That way, they could leave it behind and know that I was there with a servant’s heart ready to help and make the next day go better. This strategy eliminates the temptation to gossip or complain on the way out the door and prevents Satan from getting the victory for every hour spent serving.
I hope this Scripture can give you a tangible way to encourage and disciple your leaders. Matthew 5:8 reminds us, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” I pray this for you and those you lead to seek a pure heart while serving in ministry. For His Glory!
Jana Magruder serves as the Director of Lifeway Kids. Jana brings a wealth of experience and passion for kids ministry, education, and curriculum writing. She and her husband, Michael, along with their three children attend Forest Hills Baptist Church where she teaches The Gospel Project to preteen girls.