Archives For Balance

One of my favorite verses in Scripture (I have many) is Proverbs 4:23.  I’ll quote it first out of the NIV because that is how I learned it originally:

Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
[Proverbs 4:23 NIV-1984]

I also like the ESV translation which reads:

Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
[Proverbs 4:23 ESV]

Above everything, we must guard our hearts – we must protect our heart with vigilance. I think this is particularly true of volunteers in children’s ministry.  Let me explain.

There is nothing easy about volunteering in children’s ministry.  As volunteers, we give of our time on a weekly basis to sit in a room full of kids, trying our hardest to impart some spiritual truth to them all the time battling the influences around them in the world they live in the other 167 hours a week.  I don’t say any of this to whine or complain.  I also think children’s ministry is a joy and we are blessed that God allows us to serve in this capacity.  But, it is hard and over the long haul, it does take a toll.  I have seen enough people follow the patter of passion…excitement…contentment…burnout to know that guarding our hearts is important to our long term survival, and ultimately fruitfulness, in ministry.

So, as volunteers, how do we guard our hearts.  Here are some practical ideas.

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Ministry as our Escape

Barbara Graves —  November 2, 2011

Often we talk about how to avoid burnout in ministry.  We address situations that can lead to volunteers working long hours at church, neglecting other responsibilities including their family, jobs, and even their own health.  When we get caught up in the “serve, serve, serve, serve, serve” or “I have to do it all because no one else will” traps, we are on a fast tract to burn out. We talk about balance and how we can avoid being completely burnt out, used up and dead when it comes to our ministry.

But on the other extreme of that pendulum swing, is the person who uses their ministry to hide or escape from the areas of their life that are in crisis.  These can often be  difficult situations at home or at work.  If the situation at our secular job is demanding, we may find it easier to ignore the issues there, and pour ourselves into our ministry tasks.  The same scene can be repeated for issues at home.  If we have a strained relationship with our spouse or teenager, often it is just easier to avoid or ignore those issues and pour our emotions and efforts into ministry.  If in turn, those who benefit from our ministry, whether it be church staff, or parents, feed our need for affirmation by praising the efforts we have put into our ministry, this can easily start a cycle of ignoring those areas of our life which need to be dealt with and corrected.  Instead of facing the issue with the difficult spouse, we ignore it.  Focus on ministry.  And we can easily justify it, because ministry is for eternal benefits.  How can you argue with someone who is bringing the Good News of Jesus to others?  You can’t trump Jesus!!!  But in the long run, we aren’t going to last.

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Everyone in children’s ministry knows that it is a never-ending process.  No matter how far ahead you have planned, with each passing Sunday, there is another one on the horizon.  There is always another service to plan, another outing to coordinate and another outreach to pursue.  And, if all is done; planned, prepped and prayed; the “3 Ps” of ministry, then there is dreaming to be done for what’s beyond those plans.  Even as a service is in progress, we are thinking of the next segment.  Who is taking up the offering?  How will the kids like the object lesson?  I wonder if the pastor will be long today?  All these thoughts tend to run laps around our brains as we are in the middle of our service.

In our ongoing care of our ministry, we need to remind ourselves to stop and enjoy the moment that we are in.  Watch God move in your service.  Focus on the sound of the kids singing praises to our Lord.  Savor the question that the kid asks that let’s you know that he’s processing what you’re teaching.  Just standing in the presence of God as He works through the ministry that you have prepared is exhilarating.  It feeds our spirit and renews our purpose.  But we have to stop facilitating the moment and be in it.

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Godly Work

Jared Massey —  February 10, 2011

“Don’t rank the Godliness of work based on it being church related.”  Dan Miller of 48 Days to the Work You Love

When I first heard this statement, it really resonated with me.  As someone who works a secular job, it is easy to discount that job as less Godly than my ministry job.  But, hasn’t God called me to work the second job just as much as the first?  I believe the answer is yes, though that can be a tough pill to swallow.  Does God actually call people to secular careers?  One again, yes.

For many of us, the reality is that our primary income source and often the biggest consumer of our time is a job that has little to do with church ministry.  There is a very small percentage of Christians who are employed directly by a church or ministry. 

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Dealing with Crazy Seasons

Barbara Graves —  January 20, 2011

Everything in our lives has seasons.  And everything requires our attention at a different time.  My family may need more attention this month, work may need more attention next month, and writing may need more work in between.  Rarely does a garden grow neatly together, with every crop needing the same amount of attention as the row next to it.  One week it’s the tomatoes that need to be staked and tied.  The next week, the beans will have reached the point to cage them and the following week requires weeding in an entirely different section.

Much the same, I believe the lives of those in children’s ministry are often like that garden.  And what starts as a little vegetable garden, can easily become a full working farm.  I believe part of that is because  children’s ministry volunteers are the most resilient and productive people on the planet.  They can do more with little than anyone else I know.  Our ministry seems to attract that personality. I found many years ago that I love to tackle the impossible.  And if it came to a children’s ministry event or program that was needed, but impossible to see done, I jumped at the chance to do it!  God did a lot of wonderful things and I did a lot of late night, work-myself-crazy-weekends, but for a great cause.  I loved it.  What a rush to pull it off!

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BeachI am posting this article simultaneously on both Dad in the Middle and Kidmin1124 as this announcement affects both sites.  It is with both a heavy heart and an excited anticipation for what God has next for me and my family that I make this announcement.   After much reflection, even more prayers, and soliciting the advice of some godly men and women, I have come to conclusion that it is time for me to step away (or at least draw back significantly) for a season from my online ministry activities.  Allow me first to explain why, secondly to explain what my new plan is and finally to explain what I intend to do with this season in my life.

Over the last year or so, I have been dealing with some health issues related to my back.  While acknowledging my complicity in what led to the problems in the first place, numerous brothers and sisters in Christ have helped me to understand that these issues may very well have been some sort of spiritual attack resulting from my online ministry efforts to equip and encourage those who are dedicated to helping guide kids into the Kingdom of Christ.  Thanks to God, our great and heavenly Physician, those issues have largely passed now with only minor lingering issues.  Once those health issues were miraculously healed by God, I was able to spend more and more time with my wife and family, and God began to make something abundantly clear to me.  Where I thought I had achieved balance in all of my activities, I found that my life was actually way out of balance, and my family was suffering for it.  I began to sense/realize that my family was also likely under spiritual attack, and I had been largely ignorant of, and oblivious to, it.  Over the last several weeks, I have wrestled with whether or not stepping away constitutes giving in and giving up in the spiritual battle.  Through prayer and seeking the advice that I mentioned earlier, I am confident that stepping away, while not easy, is the right thing for this season of my life.  God ordained the family as an important part of His plan, and my first priority must always be to protect my family and to find the balance that will allow me to effectively minister while not sacrificing the long-term health of my family.  While I was initially hesitant about making this decision, God has through a series of events and circumstances made it abundantly clear to me that this is the appropriate, right and god-honoring decision for both me and my family at this time.

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Doing the Hokey Pokey

Wendy Douglas —  January 5, 2011

I was thinking today that the Hokey Pokey isn’t just a dance we used to do at the skating rink, but it is a dance that we should be doing in children’s ministry.

  • Put your hands in, put your hands out… – Know what we can do and when we need to empower our team to do what they do best.
  • Put your feet in, put your feet out… – Know when we need to be working and when we need a time of rejuvination.
  • Put your whole self in, put your whole self out… – Know the difference between giving ourselves to the ministry and the ministry being all about us.
  • Turn yourself about – Knowing when we need to go in a new direction and/or looking at something differently.

How are you dancing in ministry today?

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LearnerWelcome back to the Non-Negotiables series.  It has been a while since our last post.  In this series, we are examining a variety of things which you must make time for in your life regardless of how busy you think you are.  Whether you are a full-time children’s pastor, a bi-vocational children’s pastor or a volunteer, these are the things that must remain top priorities in your life.  So far in this series, we have looked at:

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imageIt’s been a while since the last post in the Non-Negotiables series, so let me recap where we‘ve been.  Thus far we have looked at:

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Well, technically it’s not Jared’s podcast, it belongs to Sam Luce, but our very own Jared Massey was featured yesterday on Sam’s podcast called Take Ten.  Jared spoke with Sam about the struggles of being bi-vocational and what he has done in his own life to find balance.  I particularly appreciated Jared’s take on giving his wife permission to speak into his life (and planning on giving his son the same right) should he get out of balance.

image Here on Kidmin1124, we are used to the wisdom Jared has to offer, but I am glad that Sam gave him this chance to spread his wisdom to an even broader audience.  If you are bi-vocational, or just a big Jared fan, make sure to check out this episode of Take Ten.

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