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?

They Are Not JUST Kids!

My friend, Mike Johnson (Director of Childhood Leadership Development at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX) recently posted this message.  It is a powerful reminder that every parent has the small window of opportunity to impact their kids for the Kingdom.  In fact, the window is even smaller than you might think.  Enjoy this message from Mike and be CHALLENGED to make the most of every opportunity you have with the children you serve!

Is Your Pastor A Private Detective?

Accountability is something we often want from others, but we rarely want to give to others.

On a ministry team, accountability is crucial for things to run smoothly.

We understand this when it comes to those who are under us in the organization, but we don’t always treat it with the same respect when it comes to our OWN accountability.

I made a decision long ago to have a habit of offering accountability instead of forcing my pastor to require it. I don’t know of any senior pastor who enjoys going into private detective mode and tracking down any member of his staff to check on him or confront him when there’s a problem. In my relationship with my pastor, I have determined to offer accountability instead of forcing him to demand it from me.

When I came to my church, my pastor asked me to email him any time I had a problem of any kind that needed his attention.  In my pride and self-protection, I didn’t want to admit that I had any problems (at all), so I didn’t send him any emails about needs or difficulties. One day, he found out about an incident in the Kids Ministry.  He was perplexed to hear about it from someone besides me.  When he called me into his office, he had to be an investigator trying to find out what happened instead of a partner helping to resolve it.  My silence had forced him into this role.

Don’t make your pastor go into “private investigator” mode and have to poke and prod you for answers.  Take the initiative to tell him anytime there’s a problem he needs to know about.  When you’re going to be late, call.  When something goes wrong, tell him.  When there’s a problem that’s going to affect other ministries, give him a heads up.

What are some practical ways you can OFFER accountability to your lead pastor?

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.

3 Tips To Help You Be The WORST Leader You Can Be


There are so many posts and books about “How To Be A Better Leader.”  I’ve written a few and have read even more.  So, I thought I would take a different route and give you a couple of tips on how to be a bad leader – in fact, the WORST leader you can be!

1)  Be Unpredictable

If you want to be a bad leader, make it hard for your team to know what you want, what you think, or what mood you will be in.  Volunteers hate it when they have to guess what you feel is the right way to handle things.  Unpredictability is one of the worst characteristics of a bad leader.

2)  Give Most Of Your Attention To The “Squeaky Wheels”

Bad leaders fail to honor, praise, or sometimes even recognize those on their team who are faithful, hard-working team players.  Bad leaders tend to only respond to those who are whiny and critical.  So, if you want to be a bad leader, definitely make plans to ignore your “A-Team” and spend all your time trying to please the critics and whiners.

3)  Play It Safe – Always!

If you want to be the worst leader you can be, then you need to NEVER take risks.  Don’t place someone in an area of ministry until they have proved themselves to “be a star.”  Don’t give younger volunteers opportunities to step up the plate – because, what if they fail?  And, definitely DON’T raise the bar for those who are serving.  Make entry easy and serving even easier.  Asking too much of a volunteer might make them want to quit.  After all, “nobody wants to be challenged!”

So, there you have it: “Three Tips To Help you Be The WORST Leader You Can Be!”  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Leave a comment and let me know!

The Forgotten Value Of Asking Questions


I have observed over the years many Kidmin Leaders make the mistake of “arriving” in ministry.  They achieve a certain level of “success” and decide they know it all (or at least all they care to know).

When this happens, they move into protectionism.  They are constantly trying to protect their reputation as a “knowledgeable and capable leader.”  I have watched as these leaders begin to sink because they are not willing to do something that could help them keep rising in leadership – ASK QUESTIONS.

Admitting you don’t know it all and asking others for their input is difficult for insecure leaders.  Sadly, you miss out on incredible opportunities to continue growing when you fail to ask questions.  Here are some of the questions I ask and the people I ask them to:

My Pastor/Boss
*  Is there anything I am not doing in ministry that you would like to see me begin doing?
*  Is there anything I AM doing in ministry that you would like to see me STOP doing?
*  Is there any area of growth in my life that you see needs to be addressed?
*  What can I do to serve you better?
*  What can I do to serve my team better?
*  What is the biggest challenge you face in leading me?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

My Team
*  What is the biggest challenge you find in having me as a leader?
*  What is the biggest thing you appreciate about my leadership?
*  What is one thing I can do NOW to help you grow personally?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

The Parents In My Ministry
*  What are the ways we can serve you better as a parent?
*  What is the thing we do BEST as a ministry?
*  What is the area we most need to IMPROVE?
*  How can I pray for you and your family?

Take some time in the coming weeks and meet with your pastor, team members, and a group of parents in your ministry.  Ask some of these questions (and avoid the tendency to have a rebuttal to their answers – after all, the goal is to GAIN KNOWLEDGE, not prove them wrong).  They will be impressed with your desire to grow.  And, you just might gain some information you were not aware of that may take your ministry effectiveness to the next level.

What are some questions you ask yourself, your pastor, your team, and your parents?  Share them in the comments section!