What kind of children’s ministry leader are you? Take our free leadership quiz to find your leadership style summary.
Picture the perfect leader. Got that person in mind? What does he or she look like? Does your perfect leader have the charisma of a Kennedy? The good looks worthy of People Magazine? How about the genius of a Stephen Hawking?
The myth of the perfect leader is in our society. We love believing that somewhere out there is a person who’s able to defend us from our enemies, provide a chicken in every pot, make the sun shine a little brighter, and be a role model for our children. We desperately want to believe in this do-all and end-all perfect leader, and that desire plays out in a variety of ways in our society.
• In business, we bankroll CEO’s with gargantuan salaries and give them privileges and perks to match. Why? All in the hope that the perfect leadership will protect our jobs and investments, and lead us all to wealth.
• In entertainment, Marvel Comic heroes attract record crowds to the theaters. We’ll gladly pay a small fortune for a ticket and bag of popcorn so we can watch perfect leaders use their superpowers to protect us from supervillains.
• In politics, every four years Americans look for a perfect leader to run the country. We want a president who can handle foreign policy with equal, excellent skill. We want a president who’ll inspire us, lead without compromise, tame Congress, love his or her spouse, and guide America into peace and prosperity.
The Perfect Church Leader
Unfortunately, churches have bought into the myth of the perfect leader, too. But here’s the bottom line: Most people are looking for a leader who can do all, be all, and solve all. One person who’ll be everything we need.
Friend, that sets you and me up for failure. Why? Because when we’re introduced as the “leader” of a children’s ministry—even if our entire organization is ourselves and two volunteers—people compare us against the myth of the perfect leader.
But what’s even worse is that we compare ourselves against that myth.
Everyone who measures himself against that perfect leader yardstick feels less than. Buy into the myth and you’ll either kill yourself by trying to live up to it, or you’ll feel inadequate. Either choice is an ugly one because both options force you to distort who God has called and equipped you to be. When we try to be someone God didn’t wire us to be, we make it very hard for God to use us.
Shattering the Myth
It’s time to shatter the myth of the perfect leader once and for all. Here’s how we’ll topple that statue: by looking at what’s required of leadership in a “five-star” children’s ministry.
“Five-star” is a designation of excellence. Entertainment critics award a five-star rating to an excellent play or movie.
Nobody gives a play a five-star rating; the producers earn it. They earn it by making sure every piece of their production is outstanding and that every element works together. You can always spot a five-star production at a theater.
The reviews are respectful. Lines wrap around the building as sold-out shows are filled by enthusiastic patrons.
In some way, an outstanding children’s ministry is a lot like a five-star theater production. Five-star children’s ministries attract crowds of parents and children. These ministries sustain momentum for years. They’re designed to thrive over time. There’s excellent leadership in a five-star children’s ministry.
Lead With Your Strengths
God has put you in your role, which means that how he wired you to lead others will work. It just won’t work if you insist on trying to handle all the leadership functions yourself or if you pretend to be the Perfect Leader who can cover all the bases.
Imagine how dramatically you could improve your ministry — and your own attitude — if you led others from your strengths instead of feeling like a misfit. How secure would you feel if you didn’t have to fret about whether your leadership style was okay? Things would get better, trust me. They got better for me—and they will for you.
Take the Dramatic Leadership Assessment Test. Don’t worry about the name: I promise you won’t be tested on your dramatic abilities. No singing or dancing is required.
The word “dramatic” refers to the process by which groups of people put on a play in the theater. There are six distinct leadership functions required to pull together a successful play — and each function connects to one of the five stars I just finished describing.
You’ll soon discover a great deal about your natural leadership style. You’ll then explore how your style (or styles) complement other styles, and how you can work with team members to accomplish tremendous things.
So get ready to be amazed at what God has done, and is doing, in you.
Leadership Style Summaries
Use these descriptions to share what you’ve learned with your team.
1. Director: Leadership Style Summary
Possesses the ability to visualize what “the play” will look like on Opening Night. He or she is able to communicate that vision to an entire team. The Director uses that picture to motivate his or her team to action. In a ministry context, the Director is able to see what the children’s ministry can accomplish for God if it steps boldly into the future.
- I constantly find myself dreaming about the unrealized potential of my ministry.
- I study both Scripture and other thriving ministries to discover what direction I should lead my ministry.
- I feel satisfaction when I’m able to mobilize my teams to tackle a big, formidable goal.
- I enjoy being a pioneer and blazing a new path for my ministry.
- I lead by telling others’ stories of what our ministry could look like.
- I have an easy time asking people to make deep personal sacrifices for the sake of the ministry and achieving “the dream.”
- I often feel as if I’m waiting for others in my ministry to catch up or get “on board.”
- I’m annoyed by people who have a hard time seeing the big picture.
Ministry Star(s): The Promised Land, Muscle
Leadership Energy: Vision
2. Production Assistant: Leadership Style Summary
In theater, this person works closely with the Director to help him or her move the team to the goal. The Production Assistant develops the master calendars-the rehearsal schedules, advertising schedules, and set design schedules. In a ministry context, the Production Assistant bridges the status quo to the Director’s vision through a series of well-defined and logically progressing steps. A skillful Production Assistant is able to manage the change of attitudes and “buy-in” of teammates and influential people in the congregation.
- I quickly break large projects into a series of manageable steps.
- I’m able to quickly identify what resources, volunteers, and budgets need to be in place in order to lead my organization through change in an orderly fashion.
- I enjoy it when my team leader turns to me to develop the plan to make his or her vision become a reality.
- I feel most valuable to the team when my skills are used to help the team move through change with efficiency and minimal levels of conflict.
- I lead by developing calendars, timelines, and to-do lists that help our team measure its progress as we move toward our goals.
- I lead by helping the team and congregation manage its emotional responses to a large task or change by giving them constructive opportunities to share their opinions and feelings.
- I’m frustrated by leaders who initiate change before thinking through implications of that change.
- Leaders who deviate from a plan on which the team has agreed frustrate me.
Ministry Star: Maps
Leadership Energy: Strategy
3. Stage Manager: Leadership Style Summary
The Stage Manager has an eye for all the details that need to be attended to in order for the play to be successfully produced. In a ministry setting, the Stage Manager has an eye for the systems and to-do lists that need to be attended to for the ministry to run efficiently.
- I’m able to mentally organize my ministry into a series of systems that need to be organized.
- I constantly look for new ways to improve the efficiency of how things happen in my ministry.
- I take pleasure in creating an orderly environment in which people can serve.
- I feel secure when I operate within clearly defined boundaries and expectations.
- I lead by creating policies and systems to help others do their jobs well.
- I have an eye for detail and am constantly generating to-do lists to organize my day.
- I have difficulty understanding those who ignore details and protocol.
- I dislike working in unstructured environments.
Ministry Star: Muscle
Leadership Energy: Organization
4. Theater Manager: Leadership Style Summary
In the world of drama, the Theater Manager provides a healthy environment in which everyone can work. He or she pays the heating bills and makes sure the rehearsal rooms and stage are clean. In a ministry environment, the Theater Manager creates a healthy relational and cognitive environment that promotes productive ministry.
- I’m motivated by the belief that healthy ministries flow from healthy teams and individuals.
- I constantly gauge the emotional and attitudinal health of my team.
- I feel most satisfied when there is a positive sense of well-being among my team members.
- I enjoy tending to the personalities of my teams and ministry.
- I’m able to lead my teams through emotional experiences that shape my team’s morale.
- I’m able to unite a diverse group of people into a common culture using training, symbols, experiences, and music.
- I become frustrated when I see team members exhibiting attitudes that harm our group’s well-being.
- Leaders who act without considering how their behavior will affect the team’s morale frustrate me.
Ministry Star(s): Has a global influence on Promised Land, Maps, Toolbox, Heart, and Muscle.
Leadership Energy: Health
5. Drama Coach: Leadership Style Summary
In theater, the Drama Coach leads by teaching others the skills and competencies needed to become skilled actors. In a ministry context, the Drama Coach leads by teaching team members the competencies, values, policies and procedures, and philosophies needed for the team to become master children’s ministry volunteers.
- I’m able to teach skills and concepts to my team members so they have the best chance for being successful in ministry.
- I can present both Scriptures and my children’s ministry knowledge in simple and memorable ways that prompt people to change their behavior.
- I enjoy studying Scripture as well as a broad field of literature in the business and education fields so I can bring the best ideas into my ministry.
- I feel most used by God when I’m leading a classroom, whether it’s filled with children or adults.
- I create opportunities to equip my team members in a group or individual settings.
- I have found a curriculum of skills and theories that I believe my team members need to understand.
- It frustrates me when my team members don’t take advantage of the teacher training available to them.
- I often find myself analyzing teachers whom I sit under and find myself developing better ways to present the same material.
Ministry Star: Tool Box
Leadership Energy: Equipping
6. Stagehand: Leadership Style Summary
In theater, the Stagehand advances the progress of the team by meeting the physical needs of the team. Stagehands build the set and make sure all of the props are acquired and working. In a ministry setting, the Stagehand serves the team by meeting their physical needs and allowing other leaders to focus on their roles.
- I’m able to anticipate what supplies and labor the team will need to order to accomplish its goals.
- I’d rather be of assistance to the people who are doing the lead work.
- I enjoy working behind the scenes to support my more visible team members.
- I take pride in my flexibility and willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
- I tend to volunteer for the set-up and tear-down phases of most events.
- I lead by doing all the menial jobs that can pile up and get in the way of the team accomplishing its goals.
- I can find myself feeling forgotten by the rest of the team.
- I can judge team members who overlook the physical jobs that need to be done in the ministry.
Ministry Star: Muscle
Leadership Energy: Servanthood
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