more and I’ll be done.”
Once again, temptation is too strong to resist.
“I’ll just add one more and that’ll do it.”
Like children building block towers and hoping they won’t topple
over, we children’s ministers sometimes have to add “one more hat”
to our already maxed-out headgear. There’s no way to avoid it; our
job demands it.
Children’s ministers must be “master hatters” to survive. But in
order to keep your hats from toppling into a heap, you need some
hat-wearing principles. If you learn how to wear your many hats in
style, you maintain balance in your life.
Take a look at some of the most common hats children’s ministers
wear and see if you recognize any of your ministry hats. Are they
being worn properly? If they are, you’ll fulfill your ministry with
a “hats off to you” salute.
- Family member-This can be one of the most
poorly worn hats if you allow it to be. It’s easy to neglect your
closest relationships in the name of “ministry.” But your family is
your first ministry priority. If you’re married, spend regular time
with your spouse. Schedule a getaway weekend at least once a
quarter. Set aside one day, one afternoon or one evening each week
for a date with your spouse. Also schedule times for special family
activities. Even if you are single or don’t have children, you can
call your mom or write a letter to your brother. Invest in family
relationships. And…oh yes, it can be done! Take your appointment
book today and make a fresh start in setting these appointments
- Shepherd-Your second priority is the
people-not the programs-in your ministry. Their needs and interests
are more important than the offering amounts or filled quotas.
Personally contact the children and adults in your ministry.
Regularly send notes, make phone calls or drop by to visit. Get to
know people and let them know you really care.
- Politician-Don’t ignore the people who can
help your ministry. Avoid becoming so focused on your ministry that
you neglect the overall ministries of the church. Stay in contact
with others outside your immediate ministry sphere. Occasionally
attend programs and activities where you can meet and maintain
contacts with others who are necessary supports to your
- Financial manager-Money can be a problem area.
Establish clear and precise procedures to ensure accountability for
any ministry funds. Always use a two-person-signature checking
account for any ministry funds, especially if one signature is your
- Counselor-Be available to people who are
hurting, but remember that those in crisis are emotionally
vulnerable and so are you. Never put yourself into compromising
situations as you counsel others. Never counsel anyone alone in a
secluded place. If you do, your actions or integrity may be
- Education director-It’s an awesome
responsibility to feed God’s flock. Don’t cheat on preparing a
spiritual meal for your kids. Take time to pray about the
opportunities God puts before you and then prepare well. Study
diligently for each talk or lesson.
- Administrator-Successful church administration
is dependent on basic organization and common sense. Organize your
day, your week and your month. Plan ahead. Make time for people as
well as programs. Then think about what you’re planning to do.
Share your planning with others you respect and get their
- Friend-Close friendships frequently fall
victim to ministry pressures. In addition to family time, you need
close friends with whom you can share your joys, burdens,
frustrations and victories. Lasting friendships don’t just happen;
they must be “worked at” constantly. Set aside regular times for
close friends who provide mutual encouragement and support.
- Scholar-Effective group leadership requires
skill. Keep your scholar hat on by being a lifelong student of
effective group-management and educational methodology. If you
aren’t consciously and aggressively seeking out better ways to
teach children, you may find your ministry characterized by a
“dunce” hat. A little effort can make the greatest difference in a
These are just a few of the major ministry hats all of us are
called upon to wear. Rather than seeing your hats topple, discover
how wearing the hats properly can lead to ministry success and
accomplishments beyond what you ever envisioned.
M. Kurt Jarvis is a director of children and family
ministries in New Jersey.
You don’t have to do everything yourself. Follow these
- Make a written plan. Outline each ministry activity others can
help with. Then develop a list of people who might have the skills
to do the various tasks required.
- Ask for help. It’s not easy if you’re a perfectionist, but
releasing some control and delegating will develop others’
- Contact people personally. You can send out a letter or put an
announcement in the church bulletin to inform people, but you need
to personally ask them to help.
- Plan early. Don’t ask others to do rush jobs when you had time
to give them advance notice-and you wasted that time. Ask people
early to ensure success in their tasks.
- Follow up. For every delegated task, make a checkup calendar
with a reasonable timeline to check on the progress of projects. If
someone needs help, connect him or her with someone who can
- Communicate. When you have a project that involves several
individuals in various components, communicate the “big picture” to
everyone. Let people know how important their responsibilities are
to the overall task.
- Affirm. People need to be affirmed and recognized in their
ministries. Encourage and compliment them as their work
- Say thanks. Say thank you to those who help you. Write a
personal note. Or deliver a framed calligraphied scripture verse or
a single carnation in a vase to say thank you.
Begin a teacher-training meeting by setting out a variety of
hats-as many as you can find. One at a time, have teachers choose
hats that characterize ministry areas they’ve been struggling with.
For example, someone might choose a hard hat because her students
have been hardheaded lately. Or someone might choose a baseball cap
because he feels like he’s striking out. Form pairs, and have
partners brainstorm things they could do to deal with their
This article is excerpted from Children’s Ministry Magazine.
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