We aren’t an extravagant family. We are a busy one. So, last year, my wife and I decided to pool our birthday money and purchase a Roomba. If you aren’t familiar with a Roomba, it is a robotic vacuum. You turn it on and it meanders through your house vacuuming. The nicer models even have timers that you can set to run while you are away from home, but ours isn’t that fancy. Even so, as I watched the Roomba zigzag in random lines across our living room, it made me think about how maybe I could apply some of what it does to my own leadership qualities.
- Focus on the dirt. We love the Roomba but more than once we have caught that silly thing vacuuming our closet. I mean, really, who vacuums his closet? (you don’t vacuum your closet do you?) The Roomba is programmed to learn your house and learn where all the rooms are. It wants to clean your whole house, so it will drift toward places that it hasn’t been and sometimes, places you don’t want it to go. The same can be said of me in my ministry work. Just like when I know there’s cracker crumbs all over the floor and the Roomba is trying to clean our closet, sometimes there’s not fun stuff for me to do for work (like calling the parent of a disruptive child, following a pastor’s request to teach kids for 16 weeks from the Book of Revelation, or cleaning up after the Harvest Festival) and we tend to shift our focus on the easy things like ordering more chenille stems from Amazon, writing birthday cards, or looking for flights to the next ETCH family ministry conference. For this reason, sometimes you have to close the doors and keep your focus (and the Roomba) on the important stuff.
- Know where you are going. Call me easily amused, but I seriously enjoy watching our Roomba work. I love seeing what looks like random movements, but then seeing all of those random movements come together by completely cleaning our living room floor. For your education minister, I’m sure some of your actions might make him crazy. You are working on 10 different things at once, and while it seems random to the viewer, you know what you are working toward. It’s OK to multitask, but you have to remember the end goal. Where are your going? Why are you doing what you are doing? What’s the goal of your children’s ministry? WHO are you pointing your children to?
- Sometimes you need to recharge. One of the coolest things about our Roomba is that it knows when its battery is low. When it gets tired, it begins making its way back toward its charging station to take a break and recharge. It knows when it needs a break. Kids ministry is seriously hard work. Recruiting volunteers, ministering to kids and their families, arranging childcare for special events, and choosing curriculum are tasks that can be overwhelming. You have to recharge. You need to take a break. Just because the work isn’t done, doesn’t mean you can’t rest. The Roomba takes a break and then goes right back out to finish the job. You can do that too!
**This post is not a paid advertisement for the Roomba, although I believe EVERY Kids Minister needs one!**
Jeff Land is Publishing Team Leader for Bible Studies For Life: Kids. He holds a BSW from Mississippi College and a MACE from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jeff has served as children’s pastor and currently teaches second graders each week at his church. Jeff, his wife Abbey, and their four sons live in Coopertown, TN.