Grace Under Pressure

If you are a fan of morning television, you might have heard rumblings in the past week or so regarding Ann Curry’s departure from the Today Show.  Today, the rumors were confirmed…she is in fact leaving her coveted host chair on the popular morning program.  She announced her departure this morning.  Ever since the internet buzz began about her rumored departure, I specifically tuned in to see if she would ever mention it.  She never did, but her facial expressions and body language did all of the talking.  She looked sad, her shoulders were hunched over, her laughs not as hearty.

She referred to the job as her “dream job”.  Who ever wants to leave their dream job like this, for all the world to see?  In my humble opinion, Ms. Curry did a great job under the circmstances.  There are two things she said that stood out to me:

“I have wanted to give you [the viewers] the world.”  Leaders have big dreams for the future.  The sky is the limit.  Although many women preceded Ms. Curry, she wanted to bring her own personality to the role.

“For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I’m sorry I couldn’t carry the ball over the finish line.  But man, I did try.”  Abrupt changes can leave a leader feeling like they’ve let their followers down.  They can also feel like their work was unfinished.  But trying is a really big part in wanting to make a difference.

I am looking forward to how Ms. Curry will move forward in the future.  I am hopeful that the grace she exuded today will keep her dreaming bigger and better.

Ministry and Motherhood

Balancing ministry and motherhood is something that I’ve tried to manage for the six years that I’ve been on-staff in Children’s Ministry.  It hasn’t always been easy.  Sometimes I feel like I pour too much of myself into my work while neglecting time with my children and vice versa.  Instead of thinking of it as either-or, I have tried to intertwine the two.  Here’s how:

I involve my children in my ministry.  This won’t work for every family (my children are teenagers) but my children actually enjoy being a part of my ministry.  In fact, they call it “our ministry”.  They are able to offer great insight into music choices, games, events and resources.  My little test group, if you will.  Not only does this help me stay relevant and “cool” with the kids at church, but it helps my children feel like valued members of our ministry (which they are).

As a result, I’ve seen them use their gifts and talents.  My son has seen me lead Sunday School and is now a teen small group leader for 6th grader boys at our church.  He not only prepares his lessons ahead of time but he finds ways to shepherd the boys as well as provide an atmosphere of community within the group.  He has also taught me a thing or two about technology (namely how to design a PowerPoint presentation).  My daughter is extremely artistic.  She has helped design brochures as well as sets and bulletin boards.  She has also researched craft projects and has written skits for the children.

I ask their permission before signing them up for events, etc..  I value my children and their need for personal boundaries by not signing them up to help me at events.  I don’t automatically assume that they will be present or fill open slots.  Because of this, they look forward to going to church and volunteer to serve in various ways.

I value their opinion.  When I was presented with a new ministry opportunity last year, I talked it over with my children (and my husband).  Because the opportunity would involve changing churches, their opinion was vital to my decision.  Talking it over with them and getting their insight strengthened our family and helped them to love, not resent, moving to our current church.

I am aware of negative talk about the ministry.  Volunteers don’t show up.  Someone may disagree with a decision I’ve made.  Someone may complain about this or that.  But my children don’t need to hear that.  It’s not their burden to carry.

As often as I can, I take them along with me when I travel for work.  My children are unsung heroes of my ministry, so taking them along with me is a reward for them.  Those trips have been some of the best times we’ve had as a family.

I value them by leaving work at work.  I love Children’s Ministry.  I love to read about it and talk about it.  But I also love my family time and try to protect that at all costs.  Saturdays and Sunday afternoons are reserved for family–movies, good conversation, a delicious meal, a road trip.  Just good, quality time to connect.

Although I love Children’s Ministry, motherhood is my most important ministry.  But having my children integrated into my ministry is the best of both worlds!  I could not imagine ministry life without them! 🙂

Hello, Summer!

I don’t know about your ministry, but our ministry does not slow down during the summer.  Between our end-of-year volunteer appreciation picnic, recruiting (for summer and fall) and Summer Bible Camp, our workload during the summer keeps us quite busy!

One of our biggest tasks for our summer is preparing for summer programming.  We give our school-year volunteers the summer off to rest, recover and re-energize for the fall.  This means that in order to staff our ministry, we rely on parent volunteers and members of our church body to serve.  This poses quite a challenge, considering travel schedules to work around and the reality that people just don’t want to serve.
To make the transition to summer programming a little easier on our seasonal volunteers, I have chosen a summer volunteer-friendly curriculum for the past 3 summers.  We use a video-based teaching time (which takes a huge burden off of a seasonal volunteer’s shoulders) and have our volunteers facilitate small group discussion, games and activities. This is something that our volunteers are very comfortable with.

Although our summer volunteers are seasonal and may serve just one or two Sundays, it is important that they be aware of some basic ministry information, such as arrival times, class schedule, safety policies, and classroom discipline.  I recently put together a “Summer Serve Handbook” for our volunteers containing this important information.

What does summer look like in your ministry?

My Summer Reading (Part 1)

This summer, I am attempting to read 3 books.  Quite a goal, considering that summer really doesn’t slow down for our ministry.  At the beginning of each month (June, July & August), I will let you know what book I’m reading and at the end of each month, I’ll give some insights I gleaned from the book.

My June selection is Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda by Henry & Richard Blackaby.  I saw this book on a friend’s shelf and the title immediately caught my eye.  Our church library had the book, so I browsed through it and before I knew it, I was well into chapter 2!  So…I went online to order the book and saw that the book had been revised and expanded in 2011.  That’s the one I ended up purchasing.

I believe that a leader should be a reader.  It is important to stay up-to-date with your culture, improve your craft, expand your thinking and grow in areas that might not be your strengths.  Why did I choose this particular book?  The second half of the title.  I want to move those I lead to God’s agenda, not Kathie’s agenda.  The minute that we move towards my agenda is the moment that our ministry will begin unraveling at the seams!  I want to do my volunteers a favor by guiding them in the right direction, the direction that, with God’s help, will lead to children and adults having a personal relationship with Christ.  This book looks like it will help me do just that.  I’ll let you know!

What are you reading this summer?