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.