As Christian leaders and teachers, we are called upon to “be like Jesus;” that is, we are to be servants to those for whom we are responsible to guide and direct. The biblical model for leadership is not about gaining power or success or even being in control – it is about serving others. It’s an awesome responsibility and oftentimes can be very challenging, but it comes with great rewards!
As ministers to children, we need to heed the words of Jesus when he said, “Unless we become like children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) The children have a level of trust and innocence that we lose when we become adults. It is important in our teaching and in our relationship with them that we honor their trust. And too, we should help them retain their innocence and at the same time share, as appropriate, the real world.
Jesus also said, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Being a servant leader for God’s children require us to love and serve them with a humble and grateful spirit which is not always an easy task when their actions are trying and difficult. We must be willing to hear the words of Jesus and let him guide us as we attempt to lead and guide our children to be future leaders themselves.
In today’s world, it is hard to understand the example of “putting on the yoke” like the oxen did with the burden they were required to carry. Man cannot control an ox without a yoke. Accordingly, Jesus cannot control us unless we put on His yoke so that He may guide and direct us. And just as He was meek to allow God to control and direct his path, we must also be meek so that Jesus can control our lives and our ministry. With this attitude, most children will be more responsive, and in turn, you should have better control in the classroom.
However, haven’t we been taught that meek is weak? Moses was the greatest leader in the Old Testament, but God called him the meekest man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). Moses was meek in part because he allowed God to guide and direct him as he led God’s people. He was their leader, but he was also their servant, and of course, in turn, he was God’s servant. If the two greatest leaders of the Old and New Testament – Moses and Jesus - were meek, certainly the world’s definition of meek is entirely wrong. If we do not learn this principle, we can misunderstand how to be leaders in our ministry. When we put on Jesus’ yoke, he will ensure that our ministry is effective, and our burdens are light and give us rest for our souls when we are weary.
Therefore, to be true servants of God, we need to have the courage to be meek and humble. It may look as if we are weak by the world’s standards; however, when “we are allowing” someone to take advantage of us, in reality we are in control. Remember how Jesus allowed the Pharisees and the Roman guards to whip and beat Him for a greater purpose. Does it really matter if the kids are happy because they think they have gotten away with something, and you accomplish your goal?
We are called to put on Jesus’ yoke so that He is in control of our lives to guide us into the path of ministry that he’s called us to. The act of being meek is strong; we are giving Jesus control; I call it being “disciplined and under God’s control.”
I have identified 10 steps that we as leaders must learn in being disciplined in under God’s control.
1. Give your life to God and recognize his sovereignty.
2. Put the needs of the children in front of your own.
3. Persevere through the trying times that children so readily bring with the expectation (hope) that God will see you through.
4. Be willing to surrender all to God.
5. Spend time with God, getting to know him and seeking his counsel for what is best for the kids.
6. Be patient and wait on God’s timing; you are making progress even when you think the children are not listening.
7. Live by the rules of heaven (God’s world/kingdom), not those of the earth.
8. Seek and listen to the wise counsel of others.
9. Share your wealth and blessings with all.
10. Perform your specific role in God’s kingdom with a humble and loving spirit.
As a children’s minister, you understand that God has called you to fulfill His purpose for your life. However, a godly leader is always growing and learning from others in their church family (especially the kids) and from their prayers and worship. A godly children’s leader is always looking for a way to use their time and talents to love, serve, guide, uplift and help transform those to whom they teach so they can grow to become godly leaders as well. Listen to Him and let him guide you in the way that you should lead! Put on the yoke from Jesus and be disciplined and under God’s control.