Take a New Grip: Encouragement for Children’s Ministers

The grip we had in March is no longer effective in August. Let's keep asking God what He has for us!
7 min read

We’re doing this, not because we hope everyone notices how amazing we are, but because I need a new grip to help mark out a path for others.

If we can agree on one thing, it’s that children’s ministry leaders know how to pivot. But, if you’re like me, you’re starting to actually hate that word with a passion.

Children’s ministry leaders know how to pivot like nobody’s business, because that’s what we do all the time. We were doing that before COVID hit, because Johnny ate those peanuts from that lady’s purse and he’s allergic. And you have Susie peaking in the bathroom. You have the volunteer who said they’d be there but didn’t show up.

We’re used to pivoting.

So, it has been really fun for me to watch children’s ministry leaders in this season. You guys rise to the top of leadership, and it’s a joy to see. As someone who’s been in full-time ministry for 17 years, my deepest desire is to cheer on other ministry leaders. I hope if I have a legacy at all, it is a legacy of encouraging leaders to go further than I ever will.

I want to be cheering you on and clapping for you and helping you forward. As we dive in, I first want to commend you. I want you to pat yourself on the back for just a minute, because you’re doing a good job in this season.

Let Go of Any God Complex

Young woman gazes thoughtfully through window
Image Credit: Ezra Bailey/Stone/Getty Images

So, children’s ministry leader, I want you to hear a few things. First of all, I want you to take a deep breath, and I want you to relax. And I’m going to say something that is not going to rock your world, but you probably need to hear it.

You are not God.

And I know that can feel really offensive because you’re like, I know that. But my guess is that at some point in the last four or five months, you have had that urge to fix everything or to make everything okay.

And I’m speaking from a place of total openness. I struggle with a god complex because I like to fix things and to be in control. And so, this season has especially been hard because so many things have been out of my control.

It has been hard in a good way, in a very soul-shaping way, but also, I hate it. I’ve had to remind myself time and time again that I’m not God.

You are not God.

I also have to remind myself that God doesn’t have COVID and God’s not in quarantine. He’s totally and completely present in the midst of this.

A Lesson from Hebrews

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in Hebrews—not because I’m very spiritual, but because I like Hebrews and I like going there. First of all, Hebrews 11 is my very favorite chapter in the Bible.

I’m a storyteller, I love narrative, and I love the great men and women of faith in there. I love reading their names and then knowing their stories. Many times, I’ll even think to myself, if they made it, maybe I have a chance.

But, one of the things that I was looking at is the reminder that God is in control and Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We like to stop there. But it goes on to say, so don’t be attracted by strange new ideas.

And we all know 2020 has just been one strange new idea after another. I don’t know if we would use the word attract, but we’ve all been distracted by the strange new thing.

The same God that was in charge in February is still the same God in church today.

I’m someone who has severe health issues. So, my doctor has told me that I’m not going anywhere probably the rest of my life. (That last part isn’t true. I’m exaggerating because I’m mad.)

But in reality, he told me that I would have to quarantine much longer than most people. So, part of being me is sitting back and watching the world go by. And then I find myself getting distracted by everything going on.

I want to remind you that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The same God that was in charge in February is still the same God in church today. He’s not absent. He is not quarantined, and He is not social distancing from you.

God is living and active.

Not All New Ideas Are Good Ideas

Creative thinking ideas brain innovation concept
Image Credit: marchmeena29/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Also, please take some time to relax. Stop coming up with new ideas simply for the sake of having ideas.

There’s a bit of an urgency that’s been created through all of this. Everybody seems to be doing something, so I better be doing something. Then that feeling of I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing. and what I was being paid for I’m not doing anymore. So sometimes, we create things because we are operating in crisis (or even panic) mode.

We spin our wheels and we create, create, create. And as a result, we aren’t creating quality things. We’re just creating noise.

I would love to see leaders take a step back, pause, and maybe tune your ear. Ask God what He wants you to create. What ideas from You, Lord? What ideas from the team of people I have around me? Even what idea is coming from Your heart?

Feel the Hard Things

Lastly, this time is hard and exhausting. And it’s okay to feel exhausted. It is okay to feel mad. It’s okay to have all those feelings. I want to remind you to give yourself space and permission to feel the hard things.

Feel it today. Don’t wear it tomorrow.

Because when we ignore the hard situations and pretend that we’re fine, it’s fairly inauthentic and unkind to the process that we’re in.

Everything I’m sharing today is stuff that God has been working on in my own heart. And one of the things I’ve been doing is telling myself, Mel, you can feel that today. You’re allowed to feel that—you’re allowed to feel sad and you know what? You can cry today. I’m not a big crier. So, when I cry, I feel like everybody should know. In COVID, I’m crying just because I haven’t seen anyone.

It’s okay for me to feel the feelings, but here’s the caveat I give it, feel it today.

Don’t wear it tomorrow.

Don’t let it become your identity. We could make this season be all about the feelings. And I think if we make it all about the feelings, then we’re missing what God has for us in the midst of it. 

I’ve walked through some really tough seasons personally throughout my life, including the fact that I was dying for a long time. I’m still here. But part of what you learn is how to not waste the season that God has given you. And it’s not about things like learning a new language or planting all the perennials.

It’s about looking for what God has for you in this season.

Take a New Grip

My encouragement to you is to get up in Hebrews. Hebrews 12:12 is a favorite verse of mine. Take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees.

So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.

Hebrews 12:12-13 (NLT)

We serve a God that doesn’t tell us that we can never be tired. He doesn’t tell us we can never feel weak. And I love that we have a God that doesn’t say, just hold on tighter, hang on. Instead He’s like, take a new grip.

And here’s my thing for you guys: It’s August y’all. It’s time to be taking a new grip. The grip you had in March is no longer effective in August. It is exhausting. So, you have to take a new grip. You have to keep asking God what He has for you.

It’s About Who’s Behind You

Hispanic woman smiling during support group
Image Credit: Courtney Hale/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The ministry side of that is the next verse, which says, mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall, but become strong. So, if you’re like me, I love purpose. We realize it’s not just about me.

It’s about who’s behind me too. It’s about those who are watching. And that’s what we’re all about in ministry. Who’s behind us? Who are we leading?

So, we’re doing this, not because we hope everyone notices how amazing we are, but because we need a new grip to help mark out a path for others.

And for those of us who work with kids, our entire lives are about marking a path for those little ones coming behind us. I want to encourage you in that.

It’s time for a new grip.

Kids Big church Webinar CTA

Engaging Kids in Big Church

Hear the full message from Melissa MacDonald as she gives you practical tools and encouragement for welcoming families back to church and engaging kids when they get there.
Kids Big church Webinar CTA

Engaging Kids in Big Church

Hear the full message from Melissa MacDonald as she gives you practical tools and encouragement for welcoming families back to church and engaging kids when they get there.
Kids Big church Webinar CTA

Engaging Kids in Big Church

Hear the full message from Melissa MacDonald as she gives you practical tools and encouragement for welcoming families back to church and engaging kids when they get there.
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  Updated on August 28, 2020

About the Author

  • Passionate about Jesus, the church, and kids, Melissa J. MacDonald travels extensively speaking, training, coaching, and consulting. She is known for her engaging and powerful communication. She’s the author of Missing: An Urgent Call for the Church to Rescue Kids. With a fresh and unique perspective Melissa boldly calls the church to be The Church everywhere she goes. She and her husband make their home in Iowa. She’s been to over 30 countries and seeks out the best ethnic food in every city she visits. Find out more at melissajmacdonald.com.

© 2020 David C Cook. All rights reserved.
© 2019 David C Cook. All rights reserved.
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