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25 Essentials to Be an Excellent Children’s Ministry Leader

Whether you lead an entire children’s ministry, teach a class, lead a small group, or serve as a team member, you are a leader. But are you an excellent leader? Read on to uncover why these 25 indisputable qualities of an excellent ministry leader matter so much.

25 Essentials to Be an Excellent Children’s Ministry Leader

1. Love

First Corinthians 13:4-7 perfectly outlines the attitude qualities that are key to being a good leader. Here’s a good practice with this passage: Replace “love” with “I,” and add “with my team” to the end of each phrase. (I am patient and kind with my team.) Putting your statements into action will naturally guide you into servant leadership. Jesus-style leadership!

2. Ability to Build

We’re in the business of building—the church, relationships, an effective team, and our influence and reach. Write notes to yourself of your role as a builder, connector, and encourager. What would you say to a good friend you’re supporting in such a role? Say those things to you! Then place the notes in places you’ll see them every day.

3. Communication

Develop communication strategies for your core team, your circle of influence, and those just within your reach. Practice, improve, and develop this habit with excellence. And remember everyone is always learning to communicate more effectively. Each flub is a chance to learn more finesse. Don’t forget, communication goes two ways—so create opportunities for others to speak, and then listen to them. Cultivate a heart that receives feedback well.

4. Follow Through

Deliver the goods. Go above and beyond. Meet your deadlines. Exceed others’ expectations. These are all ways to serve in any role with professionalism and merit. However, remember to have grace with yourself and others. If things are slipping, do a self check-in about why. Are you juggling too much and it’s diluting your efforts? Do you need to have some direct, tactful conversations to right size your workload? If so, do! These conversations can bring you back into a place where you’re thriving as you follow through.

5. Energizer

You have the power to drain your team or to energize it. Develop your ability to read people. If your meetings, events, weekly programs, or even your leadership style is having a negative effect on your team, explore ways to improve.

6. Grace

If you haven’t failed recently, maybe you’ve allowed yourself and your team to rest on a plateau—that place of comfort and sameness. Conquer new ground, take a risk, stretch yourself. If you fail, evaluate your process and your progress. Don’t expect to have all the answers. Seek feedback and be open. But know that failure—even when it hurts—is forward movement.

7. Gratitude

Author and speaker Tim Fargo said it well: “Without gratitude, yesterday’s joy becomes merely today’s expectation.” Develop a regular habit of expressing authentic gratitude to your team.

8. Forgiveness

Where two or three are gathered, a conflict will occur. Even in the church. Especially in the church. It’s our responsibility to heal wounds and mend disagreements quickly—even if that means simply forgiving a grievance and moving forward. Sometimes what must heal is your own heart. Don’t be afraid to seek help with that. You and your ministry are worth it!

9. Initiative

Leaders move things forward, develop ideas, and are proactive more than reactive. Leaders start the ball rolling for themselves and their teams. And leaders have different styles of accomplishing these things. Discover your style so you can leverage your strengths.

10. Awareness

Just like a dead battery needs a jump, sometimes people do, too. Be that source for people on your team. Know them. Pay attention to signs that they’re struggling before they burn out. The same goes for you. A wise leader is self-aware and willing to be vulnerable.

11. Anti-Gossip

Don’t spread it. Don’t listen to it either. When you lead by example in not allowing speculation to be regarded and shared as truth, you’re holding the line of an important team culture safeguard. Lead with, “In this team, we protect each other from gossip.”

12. Teachable

A good leader is always learning, improving, and growing. Everyone on your team and in your ministry has something to teach you. What if all those lessons are part of God’s purpose for your life? How would that change how you listen, question, and lead?

13. Momentum-Maker

Nurture the momentum of your team. Understand where you are versus where you’re headed. Authority and clear vision free your team for a decisive movement. Create goals as mile markers for your journey. Small successes build momentum for achieving the overall vision. Recognize and celebrate these successes with your team!

14. Time Management

The most precious resource to ministry leaders is time. Use this resource well. Prioritize the work your team must accomplish. Communicate the plan. Delegate. Grant the authority to streamline processes so your team isn’t hampered by red tape.

15. Shared Ownership

Foster cooperative ownership within your team. Engagement goes up, morale goes up, and success becomes more likely when everyone is invested.

16. Problem-Solver

When problems arise, look for a way—not merely a way out. If you spot a problem that needs to be addressed, go into that conversation with some ideas for solutions.

17. A Servant’s Heart

Ask, “How can I make your job easier?” Look for ways to assist and serve others and to improve your product, service, or experience. Consider how you are or aren’t equipping your team for success and ways you can support them in their roles.

18. Respect

The best ministry leaders lead with respect by valuing the individuals on their team. Know who these individuals are and what they need. Recognize and nurture their strengths. Acknowledge their sacrifices of time and resources. Honor the decisions they make.

19. Strength

Understand your personal strengths and shore up your weaknesses. Collaborate with others. Don’t allow your ministry’s mission to be compromised because of pride. There’s great strength in owning your mistakes. And this creates an environment where others feel safe to also say, “I didn’t get it right this time, but I can learn and do differently next time.”

20. Trustworthy

Trust is the key factor that makes many of these other qualities possible. Within an environment of trust, a team feels the freedom to collaborate, forgive, show vulnerability, communicate, and risk failure (as noted in #19). To lead such a team, you must be trustworthy and authentic.

21. Individuality

Recognize your unique mix of resources, skills, talents, gifts, knowledge, and strength. Let this empower you to thrive.

22. Good Example

Trust in the power of the good example. Know what you bring to the mix as a ministry leader and how you can maximize your positive attributes. Set an example of how to lead, how to serve, and how to handle failure and frustration. Spread the good stuff.

23. Worship

Let everything you do be done for God’s glory. Help people understand how their role, no matter how seemingly significant or small, is an offering of worship, too.

24. Evaluation

Assessment and feedback are critical to improvement. Look objectively at the fruit of your team’s work. Look in the mirror to see where you can improve. Coach your team members on ways they can grow.

25. Refreshed

Come ready to work hard. But take time to rest and refresh yourself. Honor the Sabbath. Model this within your team.

Christina Willett has served in kidmin for over 20 years. She’s a children’s ministry director in Puyallup, Washington.

Want more articles for children’s ministry leaders? Check these out.

2 thoughts on “25 Essentials to Be an Excellent Children’s Ministry Leader

  1. I would love to learn more from you

    • Sierra Gomez

      Hi Margret! Hope you are doing well. We do have a weekly newsletter that goes out every Wednesday morning that features 4 different articles that could range from seasonal, related to volunteers, different age groups, games, crafts and so much more! If you’d like to sign-up for that you can do so here:

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