Most leaders if they are honest will tell you one of their biggest fears is they would give their life and energy to someone or something only to be forgotten once they move on. I have thought about this a lot lately what will people take away from your contribution to your church, family, field.
Here are a few random thoughts I have been thinking and praying over.
1. When I leave a conversation do people think I am important or did I make them feel important
2. The people you poured into will always outlast anything you build.
When I first started leading elementary and preschool environments, I had no problem leading and recruiting elementary volunteers, preschool was a different story. It wasn’t until I came understand what makes preschool ministry so amazing. The biggest game changer in preschool ministry and recruiting people to help in preschool ministry comes when you understand that you may be the first person to introduce a preschool to Christ. It’s a huge honor to serve in preschool ministry. To help shape a child’s first understanding of who Christ and what he did for them is amazing.
Here are 5 actions every preschool teacher needs to take.
1. Smile, love the kids you serve. Let them see in you the fruit of the Holy Spirit that is a result of a Christ-centered life.
2. Make sure the snacks are good. – Two things no preschooler ever needs is stale goldfish and stale faith.
3. Use snack time to drive home truth. Preschoolers don’t move and don’t talk and listen most while they are eating. Use those few moments well.
4. Remind kids – 1. Jesus loves them 2. We love you. 3. We all need God’s help
5. Practice consistency and flexibility they are your two greatest friends when working with small people.
Jack Klumpenhower is the author of Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids.
His teaching resources can be found at theGospel Teacher
I recently read Jack’s book “Show Them Jesus” I so enjoyed it I asked Jack to guest post on my blog about how to teach the parts of the bible that are difficult. I hope you find it as helpful as I did.
Teaching the Bible’s Disturbing Stories
I’ve spent much of the past Sunday school year teaching through the book of Genesis for a class of elementary kids at my church. Just a few weeks into this class, I had a decision to make. The published curriculum I’m using as a rough guide had given me the expected lessons about creation and the sin of Adam and Eve, but it skipped the story that comes next in the Bible—where Cain murders his brother Abel.
I suspect the violent content had something to do with the publisher’s decision to skip that story. A bloody family killing does not feel kid-friendly.
But should I teach it anyway? On occasion, I too will decide it’s best to spare the youngest children from particularly rough stories or from certain details. I don’t enjoy shocking kids or telling them horrific tales. But usually I’ll go ahead and teach most Bible stories—including the gory or sinful parts. And in the case of Cain and Abel I hardly had to think about it. I knew I wanted to teach that story, and so I did.
During lesson time, I even drew a stick-figure picture of Cain standing over Abel’s body. Then I added some red smears for blood pooling on the ground. I was as gentle as I could be about it, soberly warning the kids that it was ugly and sad, but still I drew that picture. It was important for them to see it.
So why, of all things, would I want kids to see that? I have three main reasons, each of which applies not only to Cain and Abel but also to many other Bible stories.
- It’s good to teach the Bible the way God has given it. If we poke around the Bible looking to use just the cheery parts, we end up skewing its message. We give kids the idea that the Bible is something like Aesop’s fables or after-school cartoons instead of the gritty, soaring, beautifully diverse message from God that it is. We also might miss key themes.
With the Cain and Abel story, I recognized it as part of the Bible’s foundational opening pages and the introduction of a critical theme: the contrast between a bad heart mastered by sin and a good heart devoted to God. I didn’t want to skip over that. I also noticed that the Bible specifically mentions Abel’s blood five times (in four different books). That made the blood a necessary part of my lesson if I was going to be true to the Bible’s own emphasis.
Ego: The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus
Genuine authority knows, however, that all immediacy is disastrous, particularly in matters of authority. Genuine authority knows that it can only exist in the service of the one who alone has authority. Genuine authority knows that it is bound in the strictest sense by the words of Jesus, “you have one teacher, and you are all brothers” (Matt. 23: 8). The community of faith does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and of one another. It does not lack the former, but the latter. The community of faith will place its confidence only in the simple servant of the word of Jesus, because it knows that it will then be guided not by human wisdom and human conceit, but by the word of the good shepherd.
Keeping our egos in check is so important because it is counter cultural to everything we see and hear. We live in a day where self promotion is rampant. The church sadly is no different. What worries me is kids who are digital natives are growing up and they don’t remember what it was like before the age of the minor Christian celebrity. You have ministers who start a blog and buy followers on twitter before long they are wearing swag and hitting the conference circuit speaking about things they have heard and seen others do but have never done themselves.
This may seem harmless enough but the greatest damage it does is it creates a misunderstanding of where authority comes from and what we as Christians are supposed to do to leverage the authority we have been given. The purpose of our God-given authority is to build the community and serve as faithful servants of Jesus Christ.
(Soap Box: You know what drives me nuts? That God calls people to plant churches in the fastest growing communities in America. Where people are leaving their churches moving into a new community and are looking for a church and we call that church growth.)
Am I anti-twitter, instagram, Facebook? No. Well maybe anti Facebook, I honestly don’t like Facebook. There is the problem when you can be in ministry for 2 years open up a twitter account and not know a thing, you have never built anything and you start to think that you have something to say because few people come to your blog everyday. It’s just far to easy to build a platform before you have payed the price for a message. The reason our message can be so shallow is we do everything we can to protect our ego’s and avoid pain. Pain in ministry refines the call and focuses us on what is eternal.
Our world is in massive need of genuine authority. We have enough egos in Christian ministry we need more servants.
Questions we need to ask ourselves often to keep our ego in check:
1. Do I love people who can do NOTHING for me?
2. If I lost my influence would I be ok with that?
3. Do I use my position to get people to do things for me?
4. Do I say and do things that will get Retweeted or Do I say and do what the Holy Spirit is asking me to say and do. Even if that is unpopular.
5. Do my actions reflect my stated priories.
6. Do the people walk away thinking I am great or did I in my conversation make them feel great.
Experience: Lack of experience is actually a good thing.
One of the things that young leaders have to wrestle with is a lack of experience. It can be very easy as a young leader to push through a lack of experience and lead from a place of insecure confidence. Which sounds like a contradiction of terms but nothing could be further from the truth. I have seen many young leaders make many mistakes because they lack experience and rather than leaning into Christ they act as if they have led for years. The problem occurs when young leaders experience a bit of success and attribute it to the wrong things. It in turn produces a skewed view of leadership. They think that their success has more to do with them than it really does. This is where arrogant insecure leaders are born.
The reason many leaders in church ministry are so insecure is because they never learn the lesson their lack of experience was meant to teach them. They build their own kingdom based on what they have done and then spend their life protecting it from anyone destroying what they built. What insecure, selfish, egocentric leaders never learn is that lacking experience is a blessing and if leveraged properly will create a lifelong dependence on Christ alone. As leaders “We are” as Aristotle says “What we repeatedly do”. If you are a young leader repeatedly place your present, your past and your future in the hands of Christ so that he can form you and shape you into what he has for you.
If you are a young leader the best thing you can do is leverage your lack of experience and build into yourself a life long dependence on Christ.
Here are some practical ways to leverage your inexperience:
1. Listen (I blogged about that here)
2. Seek to build up those around you
3. Be about team
4. Give away the credit take all the blame
5. Remind yourself daily that if you lose everything you still get Jesus
7. Continually ask yourself am I building God##Q##s Kingdom or my résumé