As leaders in children’s ministry, we have a lot in common! We love God, love kids, and cherish much of our time in ministry. And in order for us to continue growing, it’s important that we set up thinking habits that help us stay focused on what matters.

We face a lot in this ministry and at times it’s really easy for us to become discouraged in our work. It’s important that develop habits that help us through the discouragement and keep us focused on the mission we’re called to.

Will these thinking habits solve all of your problems? No way! But keeping your mind on the right things is so important as you live and as you work in ministry.

3 Thinking Habits Important in Children’s Ministry Leadership

Thinking Habit #1: “Being” Over “Doing”

There is a lot to “do” in leading a children’s ministry. In fact, there’s always something else to do.

And that can be a problem. It’s very easy to become a slave to everything that needs to be done. It’s easy to take on responsibilities that we should be delegating or equipping others to do so that we can focus primarily on what only we can do.

What’s even worse is that it’s really easy to let the “doing” define us. Sometimes it even replaces the necessity to “be” in our faith. Sometimes we even let it define our identity. Unwittingly, we allow the fact that we work for a church and the busyness of our role to replace the nourishment of our souls.

It’s important that develop habits that help us through the discouragement and keep us focused on the mission we’re called to.

We can’t let this happen! It’s important that we begin to think “being” first. We need to first and foremost make sure our walk with Jesus is priority. Because our ministries flow from that very faith.

As we think about this idea, remember the story of when Jesus visits Mary and Martha. Take the time to be with Him, instead of only doing for Him.

Presenting in Your Ministry

Another aspect of this “doing” vs “being” is how we present our ministries to families and children. Do we unconsciously present a checklist of doing that represents success in faith? If they attend church every week, memorize their verses, and behave like “Christians” (“do” everything they ought to do), are they good?

Or are we willing to create environments and thinking habits where individuals can wrestle with their faith and get messy by “being?”

There is a place for doing (of course things need to get done!) but being is what this life is really all about. Great leaders think being over doing in their work, their ministry, and their own personal lives.

Habit #2: “People” Over “Programs”

Most of us, early into ministry, will learn this lesson. Thinking “program” is relatively easy. It’s tangible. The success of programming is fairly easily measured. It’s very visible and we receive lots of plaudits if it’s done well, which makes us feel good!

And certainly having great program is very important. But it’s not the most important element of ministry.

People are always the most important. And we have to have a thinking habit that prioritizes people!

And while we all agree with this thought, too often the way we pursue ministry does not reflect this. A leader who puts “people” over “programs” looks something like this:

Prioritizing Connection

Leaders who prioritize connection walk slowly through the crowd on Sunday morning, intentionally seeking opportunities to connect. They don’t rush around putting fires out without regard to the important conversations to be had with kids, parents, and volunteers.

Do things happen? Of course! But the idea is that connection is prioritized, not perfect programming.

Building on Vision

Knowing that vision inspires people, it’s important that leaders build their ministries around this and include it as a thinking habit. It’s important for us to inspire and encourage those around us in the mission and vision of what we’re all working together to accomplish.

If we only focus on the need to do or other needs we have, it can be discouraging to the people in our ministries and it can even lead to the deterioration of what we’re trying to do.

Spiritual Impact is Most Important

When we look at programming, which is important, it’s imperative that we first look at the spiritual impact of the program over everything else.

Yes, numbers matter, as does excellence, but connecting with a person’s heart matters most.

People are always the most important.

Serve First Through Relationships

As we equip our teams for ministry, we have to first do so through relationship. What this looks like at times is shifting our plans to meet the needs in front of us than strictly adhering to that day’s lesson plans.

While it’s important for us to share God’s Word (yes!) and do so in fun and engaging ways, it’s important that in doing so we don’t miss the needs sitting right in front of us. Be open to the work of the Holy Spirit as He leads you in these times!

The Spiritual Health of Parents and Volunteers Matters

We’ve got to care about the spiritual walk of those around the children we serve. The health of our volunteers, staff, and even parents is important in the spiritual life of kids!

It’s so important to not only remember, but to work toward children’s ministry being about the spiritual growth of all the people involved, not just a program to fill a few hours on Sunday morning.

Thinking Habit #3: “Developing” Over “Equipping”

Equipping our teams is essential to success in ministry. In fact, it’s something every church leader should be about (read Ephesians 4).

When we develop, however, we are working to grow leaders beyond simply being prepared for Sunday school. We’re talking about inward growth.

Essentially, we’re taking the “being” over “doing” idea to those around us. When we work to grow and develop one another, we focus on long term vision and leadership growth.

Equipping helps us immediately and is the initial part of development. But focusing on development long term will enable growth and new doors to open for your ministry.

Here are 3 keys to developing leaders:

  • It requires developing yourself first
  • It requires relationship
  • It requires long-term commitment

As you continue to work and build for ministry, remember these 3 ways of thinking to help you stay focused on what really matters—people.