I found out rather quickly that children's ministry is not about what you can do. Rather it's about what you can empower others to do.
To be successful, you have to empower other people and then give them parts of the ministry.
Short and sweet - hand it to them and let them run with it.
I love this quote by Lao Tzu.
"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, we did it ourselves."
But often leaders will not pass off these things so they never get time to work on the ministry instead of just working in the ministry."
This can stem from...
pride - I am a supper hero and I can get it all done by myself
poor me - no one wants to help me
it will be quicker if I just do it myself
I'm afraid I will be left out of the loop
they won't do it the right way
they can't do it as well as I can
it's my baby - I'm not giving it up
Here are some steps you can take to see volunteers own the ministry and run with it.
1. Identify what only you can do. This would be things like setting the vision, pouring into key leaders, keeping things aligned, holding people accountable to your ministry's core values, etc.
2. Identify and mentor key people that you see leadership potential in. And when it comes to this - don't just pick anybody. Be selective. Love everyone equally, but invest selectively. Start by choosing 2-3 people that are all in. These people will be your "inner circle" just as Jesus had "Peter, James and John."
3. Begin to pass off the things you shouldn't be doing. Cutting out papers for lessons, running to the store to pick up supplies, preparing the preschool activities, checking in new families, teaching a class every service, organizing camp, etc.
4. Let them run with it. Tell them what needs to be done, but then let them decide how it will be done.
5. Empower through feedback. Feedback should be given privately. It should be ongoing. To be well received it should be based on relationship. Feedback points the person to the future. Feedback is a huge part of helping leaders run more effectively.
Here are a few quotes to remind us of how important this is...
"A good leader is a star.
A great leader produces stars."
"A good leader is powerful.
A great leader is empowering."
As a leader there are a lot of things you can focus on. But none are more impactful than enlisting and empowering volunteers. The success of your ministry rises and falls on the strength of your volunteer team.
If you are doing your job well, then you should be able to step back into the shadows and nothing misses a beat. Or you should be able to be out of town and everything runs great.
That can only happen when you begin landing off the baton and let your volunteers run with it.
You can get more leadership principles like this in my new book
"Lead Well in Children's Ministry." It is available at this link.