Previously, I wrote about several ways that being a school teacher prepared me for being a children’s minister. There were also a few things that did not transition well.
What follows are some ways that my previous job did not prepare me for ministry. These are a few surprises I quickly discovered. Click here to leave a comment.
1. Ministry takes over your life. I worked a whole lot of hours as a teacher. I brought home papers to grade and wrote tests while I was watching tv. However, I don’t think I really knew that ministry was all-encompassing. My church world, my work world, and my social world all became one. I rarely have conversations that don’t end up relating to the church and ministry. Because it is my calling and my passion, it is always on my brain. I gave teaching 100%, but I couldn’t say that it was my end-all passion.
2. Dealing with volunteers – When you teach, for the most part your classroom is your own universe. Some parents may come and help a little, but by far you do 110% of the work. And that is ok because you have lots of hours in a row with a limited number of kids. In children’s ministry you must depend on volunteers to build relationships and carry out the work of the ministry, because you want your impact to be beyond what you alone can do. It took me several years to learn the importance of letting go and letting others handle aspects of the children’s ministry. I had to learn how to equip volunteers to do the work and not just do it all on my own.
3. To truly partner with parents – It was important in school world for teachers to partner with parents. However, it was probably even more difficult to make that a reality as it is in church world. But, we had the kids for so many hours each week during the school year that we could get away without a lot of parental involvement and kids could still reach some level of success. The reality of children’s ministry is that we may get 40 hours a year of face time with most kids. To be effective, we work to truly partner and communicate with parents.
4. Budgets – Quite frankly, Alabama schoolteachers don’t have any money to worry about spending. One area that I was completely unprepared for was creating, managing and maintaining budgets. I went from maybe having $200 to spend in my classroom over a year to managing several line items each containing several thousand dollars. Ugh, not to mention turning in receipts and purchase orders. Our financial department will tell you that even after nine years, I still don’t get it.
5. That you have to work hard to keep up your personal spiritual life – I guess for some reason I thought moving to a “sacred” place of employment would make Bible reading and prayer time come more naturally. I’ll be honest with you that it is a constant struggle. It is easy to get caught in the trap of “doing” ministry and “doing” church stuff that you let your own personal walk with Christ suffer. I have had to learn (and continually re-learn) to place God first personally and not just professionally.
Want to hear the first part of this story? Then read the article where I describe 6 ways being a teacher helped me become a better kids minister.