My name is Laura Conway and I have been on the kid’s team at MKCC for many years. But believe it or not my leadership journey did not start when I signed my contract to join staff; it didn’t even start in all my years serving as a volunteer within Discovery Kids. In fact, if my teachers are to be believed, my leadership journey started on day 1 of primary school!
Every term as I received my school reports my teachers would observe and comment that while I was doing ‘OK’ with my schoolwork my biggest issue was that I wanted to take control of the classroom! “Laura sometimes forgets she is not the teacher.” “Laura has a tendency to lead others.” Or “Laura is a leader of her peers but she is not always leading them in the best way.”
But without me really realizing it this was reinforcing a lie that leading others is about control, getting others to listen and do things. But this could not be further from the truth.
Did you know that each of us influences at least ten thousand other people during our lifetime? So the question is not whether we influence someone, but how will we use your influence? The greatest example of a leader the world has seen is found in God’s Word. Jesus – the servant leader. Servant leadership is best defined by Jesus Himself:
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” – Matthew 20:26–28
In the Christian realm, all leadership should be servant leadership.
So it doesn’t matter if we lead 10’s, 50’s or 100’ or working on how we lead ourself – here are 5 keys to help us to be a new kind of leader.
The first person we lead is ourselves.
Every single leader needs to first start by leading themselves – self-leadership is the key to kick-starting anyone’s leadership journey! Leadership develops daily, not in a day. What matters most is what WE do day by day over the long haul. Learning to lead ourselves well is one of the most important things we’ll ever do as leaders.
During a Q&A session at a conference, someone asked John Maxwell, “What has been your greatest challenge as a leader?” “Leading me!” He answered. “That has always been my greatest challenge as a leader.”
Some in the audience were surprised by his response. The more experienced leaders were not. Like him, they could trace many of their failures to their own personal leadership mismanagement. Isn’t that also true for each of us? To be a successful leader WE must be a learner. And the learning is ongoing; it is a result of self-discipline and perseverance. We live at such an incredible point in history where so much information is available from great leaders for free! We just need to pick up our phones or laptop and we can have access to some of the world’s most influential leaders!
Check out a few of our recommended leadership resources below.
The 4 Stages of Leadership & Learning:
Stage 1: I Don’t Know What I Don’t Know – few think of themselves as leaders and as long as a person doesn’t know the importance of leadership they aren’t going to grow.
When we don’t know what we don’t know start to read or talk, things can be ok ‘ticking along’ but when we find out what we don’t know … we will grow both personally and in your ministry!
Stage 2: I Know What I Don’t Know – if we don’t get better at leadership, our careers will eventually get bogged down. In this phase, we develop a plan for personal growth in areas we need improvement.
Stage 3: I Know and Grow and It Starts to Show – when we recognise our lack of skill and begin the daily discipline of personal growth, exciting things start to happen. We start becoming an effective leader but we have to think about every move we make. Whenever we come across a golden nugget of truth or a significant quote, file it away for the future.
Stage 4: I Simply Go Because of What I Know – our ability to lead becomes almost automatic. we develop great instincts which result in incredible payoffs. But the only way to get there is to obey the Law of Process and pay the price.
“The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes.” – Benjamin Disraeli
There is an old saying: champions don’t become champions in the ring – they are merely recognised there. It’s true. If we want to see where someone develops into a champion, look at there daily routine. Boxing is a good analogy for leadership because it is all about daily preparation. Leadership doesn’t develop in a day. It takes a lifetime
No matter how gifted a leader is, his gifts will never reach their maximum potential without self-discipline to grow and self-care to go the distance! If we are not careful leading with passion and commitment can fast turn into a journey to burn out!
Be sure to…
1. Make it all about Jesus – not for the approval of man
2. Give space to your hobbies/refill you bucket time/space/intrests
3. Let iron sharpen iron – be accountable to someone!
4. Spend time with those you love
5. Believe in yourself – Be You
This follows on so nicely from caring for your self!! We must always think TEAM, TEAM, TEAM!! It doesn’t matter how many are on your team, we can’t do this alone!
But no one else gets it like I get it …. I hear you… but it is our job as a ‘leader’ of any capacity to take others with us!
The act of empowering others (taking them on the journey with you) changes lives – OURS AND THEIRS!!! But remember vision leaks and it’s our job to keep it topped up!
It doesn’t make much difference how much knowledge or experience a leader has if he is unable to take others on the journey! Empowerment: It’s sharing ourselves – our influence, position and opportunities – with others for the purpose of investing in their lives so that they can function at their best.
When we bring others on the journey with you, we’re not influencing just them; we’re influencing all the people they influence. That’s impact! But we need to help team win:
Man is made so that whenever anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish”-Jean La Fontaine
When equipping a kidmin team we might cover how to lead a child to Christ, story-telling, behaviour management but if we want to develop leaders it takes time to build them up spiritually and coach them in leadership – this will influence all areas of their life!
Equipping changes ministry and developing changes people – finding someone to develop and help them grow is transformational! It transcends tasks and it builds up the person – what’s important is that both are at work within our ministries!
Empowering others can free us to have more time for the things that only we can do; increase the effectiveness of our organisation, increase our influence with others and, best of all, make an incredibly positive impact on the lives of the people we empower. A leaders lasting value is measured by succession.
Succession is one of the key responsibilities of leadership.”-Max Dupree
Achievement comes to someone when they are able to do great things for themselves. Success comes when we empower followers to do great things with us. Significance comes when we develop leaders to do great things for us. But legacy is created only when we put an organisation into the position to do great things without us.
Who has ever planned a trip? Who has planned that journey blindfolded? That would be crazy, we need to know where we are heading! Ministry is no different – it doesn’t matter where we are on that ministry journey – if we have 5 or 50 kids we need a goal and a plan to get us there – we must ask ourselves some key questions
A strategy is simply a plan of action with an end in mind! What do we want our kids/families to know and what actions will help us get there? We can have a great vision ‘encourage every child to dig deeper and discover Jesus for themselves’ but without actions, it is just word on a page – a strategy not our vision that will determine our success.
What about the activates we do for kids – are they leading them to where we wish them to be or are they just random, fun things! Kids need us to be strategic at every stage of their faith journey, through every transition. Kids need a leader who will show up and keep them moving in the right direction.
The true measure of leadership is influence — nothing more, nothing less. True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence. To be a leader, a person has not only to be out front, but also have people intentionally coming behind him, following his lead, and acting on his vision.
John Maxwell said “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.”
People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Leadership begins with the heart, not the head. We can’t lead people without loving them! The church is one of the most exciting places to be a leader as our teams aren’t showing up because they are getting paid! They show up because they are passionate about the vision or they trust our leadership or hopefully both! Leadership influence come in 5 forms
For our leadership to remain effective, it is essential that we take the other influencers within the group with us to the higher levels.
The time each of us gives matters because time matters – There are 936 weeks between birth and 18 and as small group leaders, teacher, ministry leaders we really are only gifted in a small section of those. We need to lead intentionally to make the most of that time! One of the biggest ways we can gain more ‘time’ or influence is to equip parents to make the most of their time! Help them to support their child’s faith journey at every stage!
But what we do with the time we have really matters, because relationships matter. Relationships with our team matters, with our kids, with their families – the best way to build strong healthy relationships is to invest time.
The time we give matters when we make it count. When we realise how quickly time that is passing we have an urgency to make the most of the time we have! Will we make time to say those encouraging words, will we plan a curriculum or activity program that takes the kids on an intentional journey!
Psalm 20:12 says: Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should. (TLB)
We see a great example of the importance of time when we watch any sports match as time passes the play intensifies. In the same way, visualizing the weeks we have left to influence the kids can help us to:
There are some things that simply cannot happen in a week – some things take time to grow and develop! We can’t grow a tree in a week, finding a medical breakthrough takes more than a day, learning to play an instrument or even influence a child! Time matters even when we don’t think it matters – When we are leading there may be times when we get discouraged. Let’s be honest we don’t often hear thank you, or that message changed my life…
No matter where we are in your journey as a leader – today we have a choice to make as to how we can be more intentional with our next growth step or how we will intentionally pour into someone who is on our team. Today we can choose to be more intentional with the programme we have for kids and their families so that they are aiming for a destination! Today we can choose to invest time to make a difference that lasts beyond us.
Children’s Ministry Leader
Desiring God Children
Notes for the ‘Leadership breakout’ lead by Laura Conway at Elements Conference 2018