Spiritual vitality is important for every follower of Jesus Christ. Those of us who have trusted him for our salvation desire to be close to God. We recognize that this closeness can only occur on account of Jesus, for it is through him that we have access to his Father because he conquered sin and death. We acknowledge this. But do we consistently live it out? Specifically, do those of us who lead children’s ministries live it out?
So much is demanded of us as children’s ministry leaders. This is true for part-time volunteer leaders like me. But I am sure it is an equally potent reality for full-time people. For example, we must be emotionally savvy people managers who can masterfully recruit and retain volunteers to minister alongside us. We are required to gain a level of expertise in educational ministry, including teaching-learning praxis, classroom dynamics, curriculum, and planning year-round learning strategies. And that is just the start. We cannot forget pastoral care, crisis management, security issues, creative environments, collegial relationships with peer staff ministers, relationships with parents, strategic leadership concerning every facet of the ministry in timely cooperation with the overall church strategy, child development, special needs, marketing issues, outreach and mission, new family ministry expectations, and the list simply will not stop going on…
Is it any wonder that people burn out at an alarming rate?
No amount of workshops, retreats, tweets, magazine articles, books, or even face-to-face mentoring can replace the importance of a vital relationship with God. Learn about leadership principles and their application all you want. No doubt it will be helpful. But apart from knowing God and continually nurturing your spiritual life in Jesus Christ, all else is the equivalent of a house composed of unglued cards.
When the storm hits–and it will–you will fall apart.
There is no secret formula for developing a relationship with God. It is quite straightforward. We are the ones who make it overly complex. Worship him. Read the Bible, his special revelation to us. Trust him. Love him with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. Do not privatize your spirituality, but develop it in the context of loving relationships, as God intended. Contrary to the American ideal of rugged individualism, I know, but worthwhile to consider.
Simple. But so hard for we who are prone to disregard obedience so that we may do what is right in our own eyes. We build religious mini-kingdoms with our names on book titles, websites, and social networks while our families wilt away. We prioritize ministry business over prayer; travel engagements and education over family; church events over relationships; and so on.
But then there are those of us who flounder spiritually because the cares of life and ministry weigh us down. The burden becomes heavier over the years. Outwardly we put on a good face; inwardly we are dying. Although we do what we do to the best of our ability, the frustration of ministry challenges takes its toll. Our creativity and passion turns to stone as a reflection of our inner lives.
And when the storm hits, when the wind blows, we open our eyes to see the barren landscape of our souls. And it hits us at our deepest core. We wonder, “Is it too late?”
By God’s grace, as long as we have breath, it is not too late. It is not too late to renew our first love, our relationship with the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not too late to repent of the junk that is killing our souls and experience a dynamic turnaround in our attitudes and spirit. It is not too late to reinvigorate our ministry passion and purpose.
The spiritual life of a children’s minister must be cultivated tenderly in the context of loving relationships with people who have full freedom to tell us how it is even when we do not want to hear it. They will not be impressed with our pedigree, our popularity, or our personalities. They will primarily be concerned that we are following hard after Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Think on these things as you reflect on your own relationship with God.