Gain Those You Serve
The key to success in ministry is learning how to serve. Jesus spoke these words to His first disciples and they are still true for His disciples today! Mark 10:43, “But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant.”
Even leaders must be willing to serve. If you’ve ever read one of my books or articles or listened to one of my Leadership Club lessons you’ve most likely heard me say that the best job description for what we do as children’s pastors is found in 1 Peter 5:2, “Shepherd the flock of God among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.” Yes, we are feeders, caregivers, and overseers, but if we’re going to be effective, we must be eager to serve. You gain those you serve!
All of us understand that God has called us to serve children. Matthew 10:42 tells us, “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you he shall not lose his reward.” If there is a reward for giving water to kids, imagine the reward for doling out Goldfish Crackers! I learned from one of my heroes, Tommy Barnett, that every great city needs a great church. I added that every great church needs a great children’s ministry. I believe you get a great children’s ministry the same way Brother Tommy says you build a great church—that is to find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it.
God has also called us to serve our helpers. Jesus served those who helped Him.
In John 13:12-17, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. He told them in verse 17, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Those are still wise words for us to follow. Jesus also coached those under Him. We see in the Word that He spent lots of time with those He was leading. He allowed them to ask questions. He involved them in doing the work of the ministry. He made corrections when they needed it. He constantly stretched them and taught them as He duplicated Himself in them.
We understand these two folks we were called to serve—children and our volunteers—but a third person that all of us who serve in the church must serve is our leader(s). God has called us to serve our pastor or leader and help him/her fulfill the vision God has given him for the church, whatever style, type or size it is. There’s no mention ofthe title of children’s pastor in the Bible. So, where do we fit in? Ephesians 4:11-12 tells
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”
This means as a children’s pastor we exist to serve our pastor and/or leader and help them care for the sheep. The only reason we have a job is because the pastor needs someone to represent him to the children and families of the church. Because our leaders already have a gig during services, they need us to represent them. To do this we must know their vision or the direction they want the church to go. We must also know their heart. Know their dreams and help them get what they want. Every dream I’ve ever had in ministry and life I’ve seen come to pass by serving my leader’s vision. To represent them effectively, we must think the way they think and lead the way they lead. To do this you should carry yourself the way your leader or pastor carries himself. I don’t know why so many children’s ministers think to be effective with children they have to be silly! Do your leader a favor, don’t be silly!
If we are truly leaders under authority, it’s our job to take the children in the same
direction as the rest of the congregation. If we are called to serve our leader, it’s our job to look for ways to make our leader’s job easier. Always be on the lookout for things that you can do to lighten their load. This includes handling small assignments well. Do what you are asked to do and more. Keep them in the know, but don’t run to them with every little detail or with your problems. One of my personal rules is that I don’t go to my pastor when I’m down or need encouragement. I want to be like King David and choose to encourage myself in the Lord!
One of my favorite stories is found in Exodus 17:9-12. “Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose men for us, and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’” So, Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. Hear what I learned from this story. It’s not your leader’s job to hold you up. We exist to hold their arms up and set a rock underneath them to support them.
Helpers like us are called to a man, not a place or a people. It’s our responsibility to be loyal. We see this principle over and over again in the Word. Jeremiah was served by Beruk. Elijah was served by Elisha. In the New Testament Paul was served by Barnabas and also by Timothy. Every leader I‘ve served has put something into me that needed to be deposited! I’m a better father, a better husband, a better leader and a better person because of the leaders God has placed in my life.
I want to encourage you to ask God to show you what you need to learn from your leader! The secret to seeing your own dreams fulfilled is by serving another leader’s vision. Luke 16:12 tells us, “And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” Serve your leader well!
Jim, “You don’t understand. My leader won’t let me do what I want to do.” That’s because God wants you to do what your leader wants. Learn to serve! “My leader won’t fund it.” Believe God, He is your source. I believe it’s our job to trust God for the finances of the ministry so your leader doesn’t have to. That’s just one way that we can serve our leader. Look for anyway possible that you can make their job easier. No matter what, keep serving. God knows where to find you; besides, your gifts will make room for you. Proverbs 18:16 says, “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.” I’ve seen firsthand how God knows how to promote you and bring blessing your way!
Want to be great? Keep serving the children and families at your church. Serve those you lead and serve your leaders well. You gain those you serve; you can take that nugget to the bank!