Aug 6, 2013

Must Know Secrets for Children's Leaders Over 40 (if you're under 40 you can read this too)

I'm 46 years old and I've been in Children's Ministry full-time for 24 years.  Someone told me time goes by faster when you turn 40 because you pick up speed going downhill.

As I've aged into my 40's, I've asked myself some questions about my role in Children's Ministry.  If you're reading this and you're 40 plus, I'm sure the same questions have crossed your mind as well.

Should I still be doing this?

Can I still be effective?

Should I move on to something else and let someone younger take my place?

How much longer can I stay in Children's Ministry?

As I've pondered these questions, here are some things God is teaching me. 

I must remain teachable.
I am thankful for what I've learned through years of experience.  Experience that includes some wins and just as many mistakes.  But there is still so much to learn.  I must remain in school for the rest of my life.  Always reading, asking questions, seeking answers, evaluating, and learning from others.

I must remember I'm not 25 anymore.
There are things I could do in my 20's that I can't do now.  This would include all-night lock-ins.  Can I get an amen!  Seriously, I must remember that I have more physical limitations than I did then. 

I must be willing to change.  
The older you get, the harder it is to change.  I must be open to new ideas.  I must hold the ministry loosely and not be tied to philosophies or programs that are no longer effective.  We've all seen older people who are stuck in their ways and refuse to change.  I don't want to be that guy.

I must surround myself with younger leaders.
The older I get, the more important it is to surround myself with younger, creative, energetic leaders.  They can help me think young and stay in touch with the culture.  They can bring fresh new ideas, vision, and passion.  

I must invest myself in young leaders.
I must spend time mentoring, encouraging, and equipping the next generation of Children's Ministry leaders.  I want to help them grow themselves and their ministries far beyond where I am.

I must set a sustainable pace.
If I am going to finish strong, I must find a pace that will take me the distance.  I must remember that God wants me to cross the finish line...not crash and burn.

I must increase the amount of time I spend with the volunteers who minister to the kids. 
I will always spend time ministering to the kids, but as I grow older, I must gradually shift more and more of my time to the leaders who minister to the kids.

I must put young people in the spotlight.  
Children look up to high school and college age kids.  I need to let them be in videos, act in skits, direct the crazy games, lead worship, and be on stage.  

I must confirm my calling. 
I must be committed to my calling.  I am a Children's Pastor...for life.  It is not a stepping stone to another role in the church.  It is the purpose God has for my life.  Yes, the part I play in Children's Ministry will continue to adjust as the years go by, but I will always be in Children's Ministry.

Here's a big shout out to all of my fellow Children's Ministry leaders who are over 40!  You rock!  Now let's go drink our Metamucil and call it a night.

11 comments:

Ahhh yes! Sadly I do wonder sometimes if I will get too old but then I can't think of ANYTHING that I would rather do than children's ministry! I am sure every time I am with my kids that I am doing what God made me to do and I forget that I am 42!

Love your thoughts on mentoring the next generation of children's ministry leaders!

Great post I have to remember I'm not 40 anymore.
Sure proud to be your friend! Good stuff!

Awesome! God is calling His church to win. His call takes us to a level beyond the status quo, beyond normalcy. We’ve stood on the sidelines too long, tolerating a society where right is wrong and righteousness is regarded as abnormal. It’s time to become radical for Jesus Christ.

These are very important points to remember and work on. I also have been thinking about how I should supplement this -- for children's ministers over 60, like myself, particularly since I still need to accomplish items on the over-40 list you provided. Thank you for this post.

Great Post! After just finishing a week at Camp and army crawling through a mud pit at 52 - I have wondered the same things! But at the end of the week share time and lots of thank you's, hugs and we will miss you when we move to youth, I'm reminded of just how much my kids teach me every week,how much I love them and there's other greater place to be!

George, so awesome you are still going strong. Greatness in ministry is not measured in years, but in decades. Thank you for your faithfulness.

Kellie, crawling through mud pits. Wow...sounds like you could be on an episode of Survivor. Bless you for your heart for God and the kids.

Good article for leaders in general.
I just want to say that we have to be, always, teachable and willing to change. I think you talk too early about "finishing strong" - sound like you are leaving ministry. You should talk about going strong.
Your team must have variety people. You cannot surround yourself with only young people. Don't want to repeat mistakes of the king in OT who surrounded himself with young people who gave him bad advise.
No matter how old you are you have to raise new leaders.
Also, you make 40 yo people look very old :( I guess, reading your post I have to thank God that I have more energy then my youth volunteers, that I can do things I was able to do when I was 20 yo.

Now I have to research what Metamucil is and what does it do :)

God bless!

You are such a young chick-a-dee!!! You should be almost 70 like me. While I don't do children's ministry as a minister each week I still am evolving and working with children, just in a different way. My goal is to educate every children's minister about what the child of divorce experiences in their young life. And to help every child that experiences a divorce or separation from any intact home they have known (another way of saying cohabitation). It is a long and lonely journey we all go on but what a way to serve a risen Lord.

Keep up the good work and the helpful words of wisdom you bring to us.

Linda Ranson Jacobs - that DC4K lady!

Thanks Linda for your example of longevity in ministry. I am praying I can finish strong the course God has put before me as well.

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