This article was transcribed from the Ministry Spark Webinar: Encouragement for Children’s Ministry Leaders: You Were Made for This with speaker, Melissa J. MacDonald. You can watch the full webinar here.
I celebrated 20 years in full-time children’s ministry in September. And it’s looked different in seasons—but always working either for kids or with kids. And I have a great heart and love kids, but one of the things that I had to learn early on is that my great heart doesn’t make me great. And my heart for kids is not the driving force of who I am.
The driving force of who I am is who Jesus says I am. And I will tell you right now you’re not made for this. None of us are actually made for this. We serve a really big God who gives us what we need and equips us to do His work.
You Were Made for This
Ministry feels hard because it is hard. Feeling hard doesn’t mean it’s bad. Hard doesn’t mean bad. There are times that hard causes you to lean in and listen closely. What does God say? What do I need to discern?
And if you look throughout Scripture, friends, the bad news is that it’s just hard. In this world you will have trouble. We like to say that, but actually that verse continues.
But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV)
And so, my heart for all of you in ministry is to lean in and hear from God. What does He say? Who does He say I am?
You see, I’ve been through a lot in life and in ministry. And I’m really good at saying what I should say. But early on I was not good at living it out myself. I was young and not fully self-aware. And I just remember watching those words float through the air. And I remember thinking, I think I need to press into that. I think I need to figure that out.
And one of the things I learned was that I am not the sum of what I can accomplish. I am not the sum of how much I can do. God gifted me and called me, but that doesn’t make me who I am.
You Are More than What You Do
I am who He says I am. And before we figure out anything else, we have to figure out who God says we are.
One thing I would encourage you is to write down the lies you’ve believed and then combat them with the truth of Scripture. Remind yourself of God’s character—who He is. It leads to a beautiful unraveling.
You’re made for this because God calls you His child. You’re made for this because He says you’re worthwhile. He sees you. He created you and formed you. And that’s what matters.
It’s easy to tie up everything into what we can accomplish in our work world. And let’s be really careful that we don’t try to make ministry be who we are.
If God’s voice is not the loudest in your ear, you’re doing it wrong. You’ve got to be listening to Him first.
You matter because God made you. If you took away everything you could ever do, you would still matter to God.
You were made by God on purpose for a reason. You are loved by Him. Period.
So often as adults we try to figure out “more.” What’s the something else? What’s the secret sauce? The secret sauce is we’ve already got it.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;Psalm 139: 1-15 NIV
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Listen and Serve
First and foremost, you are called to tune your ear to God’s voice. And you are called to serve Him wherever He has placed you.
After 20 years in ministry, I have deep spiritual wounds. The point is this, I learned early on that the people who lied were people and not God. And the people who spread the rumors, they were people, they weren’t God.
When I began to realize that I’m called to serve God first period. Always. The specific churches and roles and people do not define who I am, but rather who I serve. This approach will change how you go into meetings. It changes the unhealthy ownership that you have going on and shifts it to servitude. You are serving God’s ministry. We just get to be a part of what God’s doing.
When I think about what I am made to do, I’m made to serve God.
And, friends, some of you need to know that you are not junk. God doesn’t make junk.
And because God doesn’t make junk, He is a good God. And you have a good calling and a good purpose. Sit with Jesus, and then sit with Him some more. He’ll remind you of what’s true. And He’ll make you into a healthy leader.
Drown the Noise
There’s a lot of noise in ministry—voices from within, from volunteers, parents, team members, leadership, you name it. The only way to combat the noise and do what God wants is to listen to Him.
Because if you are not healthy spiritually, if you are not tuning your ear to Jesus regularly, it will show up in every spot of your life. Can you fake it? Sure. But it will wear you down.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,Jeremiah 1:5 NIV
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
I believe this verse is true about every person. He made you. The more you tune your ear to God’s voice, the more He equips you for what He has called you to do.
He always gives me what I need. I have found time and time again that overflow comes out of me when I am sitting with my abundant God. It’s amazing because it is so much deeper and richer than the lack of.
He Is Good, Trust Him
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before mePsalm 23 NIV
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Friends, we serve a God who pursues us—whether we want it or not. We serve a God who’s present—whether we recognize it or not. Our job is not to prove that—our job is to pause and listen.
God, we already know You’re here. Help us to notice You.