Next time you stand in front of your children’s church, take a good look around the room. Instead of seeing future leaders, think the way God does—these are leaders, now! Some people think you need to be a born leader but that’s not true. God has placed unique gifts in all of us but for most it takes some work to get these skills honed. Shine up those “diamonds in the rough” by placing them in places that allow them to exercise their gifts.
Look again! When you see kids day after day or week after week, it’s easy to overlook their strengths and see only their weaknesses. We need to take a second look at our children. Besides their obvious weaknesses (for example, lack of impulse control) look for their strengths. Is he full of faith? Does she have a heart for younger kids? Get a real picture of who they are.
Consult with parents or guardians. Let them know that you’ve identified their child as a potential leader. Ask them to tell you about their child’s special gifts and strengths. You could also ask them if the child belongs to any other leadership programs.
Assign age appropriate tasks. Before you plug children into roles, create a punch list of tasks kids can do. For example, 6 and 7 year olds could pass out worship flags. The 9 and 10 year olds can greet visitors. Don’t overwhelm the kids with too many tasks at once. Think baby steps! (Pardon the pun!)
Give awards and recognition. Set specific service times. For example, only ask the kids to serve one month at a time. At the end of their service, award them a certificate or give some other type of recognition before their peers. It could be goal to get 12 (or some other number) of certificates to earn a leadership degree with your organization.
Establish a method for improving their skills. Kids will make mistakes—we do too! Don’t wait until they happen to think about how you deal with them. Treat kid leaders like you would treat adult leaders with respect. Approach correction by pointing out the problem briefly than explore better ways for dealing with the situation. “So, today it looked like you had a difficult time. How do you feel about it?” Do some active listening then lead the conversation. “I understand that. What if you had tried it this way?” Lead young leaders. They’ll get it!
Have confidence in your ability to mentor kids. God wants you to multiply yourself. You can do it!