While most kidmin policies and procedure manuals will contain detailed instructions of what to do in the case of a fire or other emergency at your church, few give you instructions on the best way to handle those fires that are “metaphoric” rather than literal. But in the ministry world, and especially when dealing with kids, I have found that I have needed to address burning situations far more often that I have had to put out bags of burning microwave popcorn that has been cooking for 33.00 rather than 3.30 minutes. (FYI. Popcorn will burn, as in, flame, in a microwave and the smell takes 3 days to clear. Don’t ask me how I know.)
If you haven’t had to put out “fires” in your ministry yet, you must be a new children’s leader, or you are leading alone. People working together, rubbing elbow to elbow, are certain to eventually cause enough friction that you will need to address. So, when these situations occur, I go back to the basics that we learned in kindergarten;
Stop, drop and roll.
Stop: Stop what you are doing and handle it. If there is a situation, it will only get bigger the longer that you wait to address it. And the longer a fire burns, the more damage it does. Don’t delay.
Drop: Drop whatever you are doing or whatever is taking your time and move this to the top of the list. Find the source of the disagreement, the rumor, the dissatisfaction, whatever it is, and address it. If you wait until you finish working on your next week’s lesson, or wait until the upcoming partnership dinner is over, just to see if the situation will work itself out, you will have a bigger mess that you can imagine. The only way a fire will stop burning by itself is if it runs out of fuel. Don’t let your ministry burn up because you don’t address a problem.
Roll: Let it roll…right off your back. Most ministry fires are completely avoidable if we are the perfect leadership and are doing everything right. In those cases, we will see a spot of friction and address it before the fire ever has the opportunity to ignite. But, most of us aren’t perfect. In fact, I’ve yet to meet anyone who was. So, fires come. And they get put out. Don’t beat yourself up over the fact that there was a problem. Don’t dwell on the mistake that you may have made that allowed it to get out of hand. Put this in the “lesson learned” column and go on.
Like Robert Fulgham wrote, “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.” And that applies to ministry fires, too. Just stop, drop and roll.