Leadership is not about being the boss. Take that approach with kidmin volunteers, and you’ll be miserable (as will those you are attempting to lead). Instead, think of leadership as service and influence. Isn’t this the type of leadership Jesus modeled. In fact, here are five aspects of leadership we can learn from Jesus:
- Invest in team members. Pretending that we are the only ones who can accomplish most kidmin tasks is rooted in the temptation to justify our leadership existence by what we do. That’s not what Jesus did. In fact Jesus heavily invested Himself in 12 men, spending most of His time with them during His brief earthly ministry. Jesus taught them, ate with them, prayed with and for them, cried with them, rebuked them, partied with them, and dragged them to His speaking engagements. Jesus’ disciples learned how to lead by living with the ultimate servant leader, Jesus. The result was the spread of Christianity throughout the world.
- Involve team members in decision-making. Leadership 101 emphasizes the importance of pushing decision-making to those who will end up being affected the most by those decisions, or who will be the primary implementers of the decisions. Ultimately you are accountable for making many final decisions; however, if you want others to own your kidmin vision, then make some decisions collectively. Also, unlike Jesus, you are not perfect and therefore someone else might have a better idea than you.
- Allow team members to make some decisions on their own. Again, this is basic leadership. If volunteers are always waiting on you to make every decision, you become a ministry bottleneck and your influence may stall. On the other hand, if you do a good job of investing in team members and involving them in decision-making, volunteers will know how to make decisions in ways that expand your ministry influence.
- Be strategically intentional with your own time and energy. Remember you can’t do everything and you can’t be everywhere, so stop acting as if you are omnipotent and omnipresent. God created you to need rest. Even Jesus rested. He didn’t heal everyone who was sick, and He didn’t feed everyone who was hungry. Jesus’ ministry lasted only three years, and He had to say, “No,” sometimes. You may need to do the same in order to preserve your time and energy for opportunities that expand your ministry influence.
- Say, “Yes,” to team members as often as possible. Want to breathe life into your volunteers? Then, make saying, “No,” the exception. This is different from saying, “No,” to requests that zap your own energy for the sake of feeding your ego. Sometimes I fear that we may have too many rules and regulations in our churches that keep volunteers from carrying out the mission God has given them. We do need policies for the protection of children and volunteers, but don’t let rules stifle the ministry passion of volunteers.
Our primary role as kidmin leaders is to serve and influence others for the sake of God’s kingdom. After all, kids ministry is not about us. It’s about Jesus and His bride, the Church.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ministry Publishing. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before joining Lifeway Kids. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the parents of two adult sons and two daughters-in-law, and the grandparents of four adorable grandchildren.