by Vicki Noblitt
This month, Orange Leaders takes a look at Sue Miller’s book, Making Your Children’s Ministry the Best Hour of Every Kid’s Week. You can hear more from Sue Miller, live, at the upcoming volunteer training Live to Serve events in Grand Rapids, Mich., March 8; Memphis, Tennessee, March 29; as well as The Orange Conference, April 30–May 2 in Atlanta, Ga.
As the 2014 Winter Olympics come to a close I am, ironically, thinking about the word “mediocre.”
Let me explain. Currently, my husband and I are both in jobs that require long hours and transform us, by the end of the day, into lifeless heaps of business-attired humanity. Often, the only things we want to do on weekday evenings are half-heartedly ingest dinner and then collapse on the nearest piece of upholstered furniture. Then we wash/rinse/repeat the routine the next day.
That said, it’s probably no surprise our fitness level is lacking these days. My husband is not striving for bulging biceps and I have long given up the thought of washboard abs. I just want abs—evidence of an ab, in fact, would suffice. We’ve gone so far as to coin a phrase for our current commitment to fitness: maintaining mediocrity.
Going back to the Olympics, I’ve been particularly intrigued with the stories of skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace and slopestyle skier Nick Goepper. Pikus-Pace is a dedicated wife and mother who daily juggles family and training. Goepper is from the Midwest, not exactly an area of the country historically known for churning out great skiers. Both of these individuals have had obstacles in their paths to the Olympics and yet leave the Winter Games with silver and bronze medals, respectively.
I’m pretty confident neither one has a mediocre level of fitness.
THRIVING IN MINISTRY
Chapter 8: Fit for the Adventure
Slopestyle skiing is hard. You must twist, turn, flip and spin, and then land, upright, on narrow skis. This is so you can do it again a few seconds later. Skeleton racing is also difficult. Your race begins with a sprint to build speed followed by a graceful and ultra-quick drop to your sled, all before watching ice zip right under your nose at 75 mph while you stay in the middle of the chute to avoid any unnecessary friction that may shave precious, hundredths-of-a-second time from your ride.
Fully aware of my current fitness mediocrity, it would not be wise for me to jump headfirst into either of these activities.
Just like slopestyle skiing and skeleton racing, ministry is hard. Let me wash/rinse/repeat that, just in case you missed it: MINISTRY IS HARD. This means ministry leaders and volunteers must be fit for duty. A “maintain mediocrity” attitude is likely to lead to trouble sooner rather than later.
Sue Miller, author of Making Your Children’s Ministry the Best Hour of Every Kid’s Week, doesn’t exactly mince words on this topic. She states it this way: “It is very possible to build or work in an incredible children’s ministry and lose your heart and soul for God along the way.”
What a tragedy if you were to become a children’s ministry statistic of defeat—and what a victory for the prowling Lion-Enemy (1 Peter 5:8)!
How can you avoid losing your heart and soul? How do you stay upright on the slopes and unwavering through the chutes? You must first make sure you’re “fit for the adventure.” Miller maintains you will thrive in ministry when you practice self-leadership. Why? Because the best thing you bring to your children’s program is “a heart that is full and surrendered to God.”
How does one practice self-leadership? Miller encourages ministry leaders and volunteers to:
- Maintain perspective, choosing to worship only God
- Set the pace, slowing down to focus on God
- Choose a workload that honors God
So, where are you and the rest of your ministry team? Are you fit for the task at hand?
Think of a time that you suffered severe burnout as a volunteer. How did the burnout affect your thoughts, actions and attitude? What were the warning signs?
On a scale of 1 to 5, how “full and surrendered to God” is your heart? Which of the following do you most need to work on: perspective, pace or load?
Though born in the Midwest, Vicki Noblitt resides in Atlanta, considers herself Southern, and firmly believes iced tea should be sweet. She is paid to be a Human Resources Manager, but her favorite roles are voluntary: wife, mom, grandmother, and Children’s Ministry Coach.