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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.) Live it!

2. Ability to Build

We’re in the business of building—the church, relationships, an effective team, and our influence and reach. Never lose sight of your role as a builder, connector, and encourager.

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. 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.

5. Energizer

You have the power to drain your team or 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. Learning From Failure

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.

9. Initiative

Leaders move things forward, develop ideas, and are proactive more than reactive. Leaders start the ball rolling for themselves and their teams.

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. Enough said.

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.

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.

17. A Servant’s Heart

Ask “How can I make your job easier?” This works from the top down or from a volunteer to a leader. Look for ways to assist and serve others and to improve your product, service, or experience.

18. Respect

The best ministry leaders lead with respect by valuing the individuals on your team. Know who they 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.

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. To lead such a team, you must be trustworthy.

21. Individuality

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

22. Good Example

There’s something contagious in every person. Know what you bring to the mix as a ministry leader and keep it beneficial. 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 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.

For more great ideas like this in every issue, subscribe today to Children’s Ministry Magazine!


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