I have been Leading Children’s Ministry for close to 12 years. In that time, I have experienced the ups and downs of being in a leadership role. The extreme highs when you see God fulfilling the vision he put in your heart, and the lows when you think you’ll never get there and God’s forgotten His promise to you. As children’s ministry leaders, we must combat discouragement from time to time.
Discouragement in Children’s Ministry
One thing I’ve discovered over this time is how to deal with discouragement in a positive way. Sounds a bit contradictory, but God’s kingdom is a bit upside down at times. Here are five ways that have helped me as a children’s ministry leader in times of discouragement:
1. Humble Yourself!
Realize that you can’t do this on your own! You need God. You need the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you ideas. You need Jesus to walk with you. We know this, and yet sometimes we get so into planning and organizing, that we forget to invite Him into the process. Ask for forgiveness for not letting Him lead. Give Him the reigns. Watch what He can do!
Get on your knees and begin to pray. Intercede for each child in your ministry. I actually will keep a notebook specifically for this, and give a few pages for each child. Every time I begin to intercede for this child, I will write down the things God has put on my heart for them, specific prayer request, and also prophetic words for them that the Lord gives me. You can keep one prayer journal just for the kids names, one for your volunteers names, and one for the overall ministry. In the ministry journal, write the vision God gave you for the children’s ministry. Begin to pray over these things and allow God to shape it, clarify it, and give you new insight into the HOW to get there question.
3. Remember Where You’ve Been!
When we are discouraged, it’s easy to forget all of the good things God has done in your ministry. Take time to process this. Write it down if you need to and make a list. Praise Him for how far he has taken the ministry, the children, and the volunteers. Remember the times He has answered prayers and met your needs. In doing this, your faith will be strengthened to believe for the next thing God wants to do.
4. Celebrate the Small Stuff!
A number of years ago I was discouraged that things weren’t progressing towards the vision God gave me. I wanted to see spiritual growth, but it felt like it was at a stand still. Then I prayed for God to begin to show me what He was up to. Something amazing began to happen. Every children’s service, God would highlight something to me and say ‘Look at what I’m doing’.
There were times when I would begin to tear up in the middle of teaching, because I was so touched by what God WAS DOING in the children! He was the best source of encouragement to me. The interesting part of this was that the things He was highlighting to me seemed small, and could’ve been easily overlooked. But every week I would leave that room and praise God for that one small tiny thing that God showed me. It made everything else worth it.
For example, one week we were praying for the kids and this one little girl who always was scared to death to pray out loud, raised her hand to pray. My heart almost melted!
We had a child who always cried when they didn’t get a memory verse prize. Every week I would tell them that they could memorize the verse and then get a prize, I even bought them a bible and printed the verses out for them. Then one week this girl came in and said her verse—she was so proud, and I was as well. She received her prize, but I think my prize was better that day. God was helping me see that there was something happening to the hearts of these children.
5. Praise Him For What He Is About To Do!
The first four steps really helped me have faith to believe in the vision God gave me. I was understanding that His timing is not my timing, but I can trust Him because He is doing something that will lead to an even greater thing! All of this helped me begin to Praise Him, truly believing that He would do what He said He would do.
As children’s ministry leaders, we are just the messengers. As messengers, we have to learn to get out of the way and let God’s message move the hearts and minds of those we deliver it to. We have to let the Spirit move the way He desires, when He desires to do so.
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