Are You A “Self-Aware” Leader?

“What you can’t see, you won’t change!  What you won’t change will become a habit!  Your habits will become a lifestyle!”

Ever seen a situation like this:  A Children’s Ministry Leader is convinced they have it going on and that their entire team respects them.  However, when you listen to their team and watch how they interact with them, it is obvious that their team has no respect for them.  The Children’s Ministry Leader is convinced things couldn’t be better.  The team is convinced things couldn’t be worse.

Leadership is hard.  If it were easy, everyone would be a stunning leader.  If God has called you to lead others, there is one thing you must be aware of…YOU!  This is called being “self-aware.”

Self-awareness (noun) – conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

As a leader, if you are not aware of what you are doing and how others are receiving it, you can’t learn self-awareness.  Try asking yourself a few key questions:

1.  What habits or tendencies do I fight consistently?
2.  How do people perceive me?
3.  Am I currently growing?
4.  When I make a mistake, what most often causes it?  (you might make different
mistakes, but they might be caused by the same stimulus)
5.  What kind of people/personalities do I most often struggle with?

There is no greater sabotage that a leader can cause for herself than being simply “unaware” of weaknesses and flaws.  That doesn’t mean that to be a great leader you must be without flaws and weaknesses.  It simply means you MUST be aware of them and have a plan for tackling them.

My pastor taught me this:

“What you can’t see, you won’t change!  What you won’t change will become a habit!  Your habits will become a lifestyle!”

Every leader must be self-aware!  Are you?

Raising The Bar: Expecting MORE From Your Team

“I can’t get my team to come to meetings, so I just don’t schedule them.”   ”I wish my team were more committed.”  ”I want to raise the level of my team, but I am afraid of losing good people.”

I hear statements like these from Kidmin Leaders all the time.  They want to take their team to the next level of commitment so they can accomplish more for the Kingdom, but they are afraid that if they expect more, they will lose people off of their team.  And, they are probably right.

Anytime we raise the standard and expect more of those serving in ministry, there are those who decide they just can’t make the commitment.  They may quit.  Although that is hard to deal with and NEVER something you want to see, I have always observed that it ends up being a healthy thing for the rest of team.

Keep in mind that your team wants to succeed as individuals as well as collectively.  A weak link will demoralize the collective culture and allow for rapid deterioration within the spirit of the team.  That is not good for the team or the ministry.

People want to be a part of something BIG, something exciting, something that is making a difference.  Challenge your team to be committed to growth and excellence.  Some will self-eject, but those who stay and answer the call will be more committed, more empowered, and more effective.

Still skeptical?  Jesus was the Master at raising the bar.  He was constantly calling His followers to a higher level of commitment.  He went from “Follow me” to “You have heard it said…well I say…” all the way to “Deny yourself and take up your cross…”  He NEVER let His followers off easy.  Not because he wanted to make it difficult for them, but because He knew what was at stake – souls in Eternity.  He knew that half-hearted commitments would never get the job done.

“The Status Quo never inspired ANYONE!”

The Status Quo never inspired anyone!  Resist the desire to “make it easy” on your team.  Expect the best from them, and then watch them deliver!  You’ll be glad you did!

Do People Trust You?

Trust is critical and is the foundation of any relationship.  Whether that be in your family, ministry, church, or work – trust is what makes every relationship work.  Often, we assume that others should just NATURALLY trust us, but it rarely works that way.  You have to do your part to build trust.

If you want to build a strong level of trust with your team and others, here are several practices you should put in place:

*  Keep your promises – do what you say you will do.

*  Tell the truth – the whole truth, all the time, even when it is painful.

*  Admit your mistakes – when you blow it, admit it.

*  Give away credit – don’t sing your own praises, sing the praises of others.

*  Willingly offer help – when you see a need, offer your assistance.

*  Listen – as James 1:19 puts it, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak…”  People trust those who have their best interest at heart.  Nothing demonstrates that better than sincerely listening to others.

*  Value others – demonstrate that value by showing appreciation to them both publicly and privately

*  Tell the WHY as well as the WHAT – when people understand WHY you are taking a certain action, they begin to see your heart and values.  This helps them to trust who you are.

Trust is so important.  Many take it for granted and assume it will just happen.  Every action, every word, every reaction is either building or eroding trust.  Let’s work hard to exhibit these traits this week.

What have I missed?  Do you have other practices that build trust?  Leave a comment and share it with our community!

Ten Effective Ways To Show Appreciation To Your Volunteers


Leading a volunteer ministry can be difficult.  Volunteers sacrifice their time away from their families, their jobs, and their other responsibilities and interests.  They are not required to stick with you or your kids ministry, so you want to make sure that you are proactive in showing them your appreciation.

Here are ten effective ways you can show appreciation to your volunteers:

1.  Say it publicly
Every opportunity you have: in a meeting, in front of the kids, in front of the church, in whatever public setting you are in – brag on your team.  Thank them for their tireless efforts in reaching kids for the Kingdom.

2.  Say it privately
Take your volunteers to lunch periodically (keep a list and work down the list in a strategic way).  Tell them honestly and clearly what they mean to you and the kids ministry.  Be specific.

3.  Say it creatively
Leave them a short note on the counter in their classroom or area of ministry with a creative twist.  Example:  a $5 Starbucks gift card with a note that says “Thanks A Latte!”  (For lots of creative ideas like this, check out this post)

4.  Say it sincerely
Sit down and write them a card that details the reasons why they, individually, are invaluable to the team.  Cite a specific instance you have witnessed recently of how they have made an impact in the life of a kid.

5.  Say it digitally
Send them an unexpected text, email, or Facebook message that says, “Just wanted you to know I am thankful to have you on our Kids Ministry team!”

6.  Celebrate their birthday
Send them a card, show up at their door with a “Happy Birthday” singing flash mob, whatever!  People love to be honored on their special day!

7.  Equip them
Buy them a book or resource that you know will make them better at their ministry position.  Write a note in the front cover to let them know you appreciate their commitment to growth.

8.  Feed them
Invite the team over to your house for a BBQ.  Make it a fun game night.  Don’t have a “meeting” or have an “agenda.”  Make your agenda celebrating the team and showing your love and appreciation.

9.  Photograph them
Take a picture of them serving in their area of ministry.  Print it and write a note on the back.  You could even have some of the kids in their class/ministry sign the back.

10.  Pray for them
Spend time praying for them.  Find out their spiritual needs and bring those before the Father.  Then, send a quick text or a note that says, “Just wanted you to know that I prayed for you today.  Thanking our Heavenly Father for sending you to our Kids Ministry Team.”

What about you?  What are some effective ways you have used to show appreciation for your volunteers?  Share some of your ideas in the comments section.  You will help a lot of folks in the Kidmin Community.

Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

Sometimes, we exaggerate the good things to look a little better to impress people, and we downplay the bad things so we don’t look so foolish.  Both of these are, in fact, lies. Partial truths are also partial lies, designed to “save face” by giving enough truth to avoid outright lying but not enough to expose our stupidity and sin.  Tell the truth—the whole truth, the first time.  It saves a world of trouble.

I scheduled a meeting with one of our team members for 10:00 in the morning.  At ten minutes past that time, he wasn’t there, so I called him.  He said, “I’m on my way.  Be there in a sec.”

I could hear his television in the background, so I knew he was still in his apartment.  When he arrived, I asked him about it.  He explained, “I’d forgotten about our meeting.  When I saw your name on the caller ID, I started walking toward the door as I answered.  So, technically, I was on my way.”  His answer didn’t do a lot to build trust in our relationship.

One of my Kids Ministry leaders was supposed to make a bunch of phone calls for me. After a few days, I asked, “How are those phone calls coming?”

She replied, “I haven’t talked to everyone yet.”

When I pressed her on it, she admitted she hadn’t tried to call anyone.  She tried to convince me she’d told the truth that she hadn’t “talked to everyone yet,” but I carefully explained that her statement was purposely misleading.

In our relationships, we need to tell the whole truth the first time.  After all, some people have the same habit that my pastor does.  He’ll ask questions that he already knows the answers to in order to determine if you’re telling the whole truth or not.  It’s a lot better to tell the truth than to develop the reputation of being a liar.  That doesn’t represent our Lord Jesus Christ well – not at all.

Are You Doing YOUR Job?

As Kids Ministry leaders, we are passionate about our area of ministry.  We work hard and focus on creative ideas to reach more and more children for the cause of Christ.  This is wonderful!  This is what we SHOULD do.

Often, that laser focus and passion leads us to ignore other very important and fundamental needs in our church.  We must remember that, although our PRIMARY focus may be Kids Ministry, the BIGGER role we play is that of a member of our church’s pastoral TEAM.

I was speaking at a church in Texas several years back.  The Kids Pastor was doing some teardown for an event he had put on that took place in the Youth Auditorium.  He grabbed all of his equipment from the Youth soundboard, but started to walk away – leaving all of the Youth Ministry stuff unplugged (it had been plugged in when he found it).  I asked him, “Don’t you want to plug that stuff in so that your Youth Pastor isn’t handicapped when he walks in to set up his service?”  The Kids Pastor shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s not my job – that’s his.”

This kind of attitude is corrosive to a team.  When you walk by trash in the hallway or parking lot – don’t say, “That’s the maintenance crew’s job.”  Pick it up!  When you see a projector has been left on in a classroom – turn it off.  Don’t leave it for someone else.

If you are going to be a solid member of a team, you need to remember that ANYTHING can be YOUR job.  Our main focus may be Kids, but our MAIN job is building the Kingdom.  That may mean stepping up and doing things that we never planned on, don’t feel gifted for, and are not passionate about.  It’s not about what makes us happy – it’s about building the Kingdom.

Stop doing YOUR job!