I “heart” children’s ministry but even something you love can become burdensome if you let it. After my first ten years of working inkids’ ministry, I was burned out, tired, and stressed. I had experienced unexpected upheavals in my personal life and faced severe setbacks in my ministry. I took a break, thinking I’d be back in a few months only to find that my healing would take almost four years.
Now that I have stepped back into my role as children’s pastor and evangelist in my local church, I can see the changes in my thinking and deep down in my spirit. God has changed the way I think in these five specific areas.
I am more accepting of the people God calls to my ministry. In order to serve the Lord better, I had to learn how to balance protecting the work from limiting the work. I’m ashamed to say that in the beginning, I didn’t always welcome the people God sent my way. I had specific ideas about how things should be run, how to teach, how to lead. I missed some great partnership opportunities. Today, I don’t write people off because they don’t fit in my spiritual box. I pray harder and look for creative ways to include them. When that’s not possible, or if I don’t feel the connection, I postpone the collaboration for a later date. As a result, I’ve seen great things!
I keep the lessons simple. One of my worst hang-ups, when I began, was over-complicating biblical concepts and ideas. When the subject gets too large, when I dig up a bunch of spiritual nuggets, I work them into a series or stretch them out other ways.
I find inspiration everywhere. God gave me the courage to create my own lessons, to find inspiration in everyday things. I still buy curriculum from time to time but most of the time I arrange the object lesson, themed game and main lesson.
I know my limitations, physically and spiritually. I had to learn to say no. I knew I needed some down time so I made a promise to keep my Saturdays open, except for our monthly movie night.
Loving kids is more important than anything else. Even when I don’t feel like I have everything together, even on days when I feel “less anointed,” I remember that loving kids is the most important thing to Jesus. A hug of assurance, a kind word of encouragement — these things matter to kids.
Keep the well full. This is hard to admit but here goes — before I burned out completely, I had neglected myself, spiritually. I read my bible sporadically, prayed occasionally. Now, I know better. I keep the spiritual well full, not just for me, but for the people I serve.
If you feel a bit of burnout coming on, step back and allow yourself and God to work it out. Be patient and try to learn from the experience. You are not a failure, you are a masterpiece under construction!
Follow Mimi on her website Encouragement for Christians or EFC on YouTube.