Back in 2008 I wrote an article here in K! titled “Leading with Help.” In that article I talked about how it is not God’s plan for us to do ministry or life alone. That is why He sent us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our teacher, our guide, our helper and our comforter! When the pressures and problems of teaching kids and leading others come, you don’t need to try to handle them in your own strength but do so in the strength and power of the Spirit of the living God! Just because you are doing the “Lord’s work” doesn’t mean you won’t have problems. We all have problems. Psalm 34:19 tells us, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck own, but not destroyed.” I believe these verses describe us as “gettin’ up people”! When we lead with the help of our Helper–the Holy Spirit–we are not leading in our own strength but in the strength of the promised power source.
This also works with teaching.
In that article I talked about a very valuable lesson I learned several years ago about relying on my Helper. One day as I was leaving for work I had an impression in my spirit that I needed to bring my bass guitar with me to church. Rather than be quick to obey I started reasoning with myself and, to make a long story short, I blew off the leading and went to work. No sooner had I walked in my office than the phone rang and it was my Wednesday night bass player in my pre-youth class informing me that he just got to work and found out he had to stay late. He asked if I could play bass for him. My Helper (the Holy Spirit) wanted to help me save time. As I drove back home to get my bass I understood that the more I listened to the voice of the Spirit in small things, the easier it was to hear Him in major decisions. I also realized it would have been better for me to have brought my bass and not need it than to blow off the voice of the Spirit. I’ve also learned through the years to never disobey a check in my spirit. If I sense a strong leading to not go somewhere or to not do something or to pass on a worker even if I can’t explain it, I trust my Helper.
Not only can the Holy Spirit help you in leading the children’s ministry, we must help our teachers and volunteer workforce learn to live the Spirit-led life in and out of the classroom. If we want children to be led by the Spirit we must model it! So here are ten practical ways we can model and encourage ourselves and others to be led by the Spirit in children’s ministry.
1. Start early in the week inviting your Helper to help you. Get in the habit of reading next week’s lesson when you get home from church and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you this next week to make it real to the children. Go ahead and highlight key areas that jump out at you.
2. Pray for the children as the Spirit guides you! Call their name and pray what flows from your heart for each child and their family. Repeat this step throughout the week.
3. Set an appointment to plan and study your lesson. Start from the beginning asking for the Spirit to guide your plans. Read the curriculum but listen to the Holy Spirit. I treat all curricula (even stuff I write) like catfish; I let the Holy Spirit pick out the meat and I leave the bones! Don’t wait to the last minute to study–this is an important step! Never equate flowing with the Spirit to flying by the seat of your paints. I want to have enough time to obey what the Spirit says. Some things my Helper has led me to have to be ordered or purchased.
4. Come early and be prepared. I like to set up my props, classroom and teaching tools ahead of time so I have time to pray before the kids start arriving. I like to pray over every chair. Kids are creatures of habit and many times they sit in the same area. So, I call their names and let the Spirit guide me to stand in the gap for their needs and their families.
5. As the children arrive, let the Spirit direct how you spend your time. A common mistake I’ve seen is that children’s workers talk among themselves rather than allow the Spirit to guide the pre-service time, as well as the lesson.
6. Trust your Guide. I used to illustrate this in children’s church by blindfolding a child and then giving them verbal instructions that they had to carry out without bumping into things. It’s impossible to walk by faith not sight in our own strength. Then I would ask another child to come be a guide (just like the Holy Spirit is our guide) and guide the blindfolded child to safety. It’s much easier with a guide to follow the Word of the Lord. I’ve found practice makes perfect, not only in playing an instrument or developing a skill, but also in trusting our Guide!
7. During the lesson feel free to follow the Spirit’s guiding. I love video and other teaching aides, but the most important resource you can have in the classroom is a Spirit-led teacher! They know how to follow the Spirit’s leading and end up accomplishing the desired outcome for the corporate vision.
8. After class don’t be in a hurry to leave. Listen for the Spirit to guide you after class time. Many times, this is when kids wait for others to leave and open up. Also, be sensitive to follow up with parents and other out-of-class ministry you should do this coming week.
9. After I minister and head to attend a service, I rely on the help of the Holy Spirit to lead me to people I need to recruit to be on my team. I refuse to wait on people to show up; I’m always asking the Holy Spirit to guide me to people who need to be needed! I’m on a mission from God to connect with those He leads me to. Jesus was out and about when He found the twelve disciples. The Holy Spirit is my number one recruiting tool.
10. Learn to allow the Spirit to help you identify things that need correcting or improvement on a regular basis. Ask Him to teach you why it needs fixing, as well as how. To me the Holy Spirit works in our lives like a spotlight. He shines or illuminates things that need to be changed. This is true in the classroom and every other area of my life!
The Spirit is a safe guide, one whom you can always trust. The voice of wisdom and the voice of God is always the same thing. Our helper, the Holy Spirit, will lead us to all truth and will never disagree with the voice of wisdom or God’s words! One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 3:5 & 6 where it tells us “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” I am so glad we have a Helper to lead us to be the leaders and teachers we need to be. Listen to your Guide; your Helper is right beside you. Listen to Him. Learn from Him. Do what He says. You are not alone in the awesome task of teaching and training children to be fully devoted followers of Christ.
Every list of ways to make changes starts with the desire to hear God speak. Desire to be led by the Spirit like never before. Model this to those who serve with you. One of the best ways to encourage a certain kind of behavior in others is to be an example of that behavior and model it yourself. Jesus modeled the Spirit-led life. He never ministered the same way to each person. He was led by God’s Spirit and we can be, too. It’s good news to know that the same Spirit who led Jesus, the same Spirit who empowered Him and raised Him from the dead, lives and empowers us today?