I became a leader.
It wasn’t my intention. I wanted my kids to be more involved in church and knew I needed to serve. I loved kids and wanted to make a difference.
So I signed up to volunteer on Wednesday nights. I just wanted to be there, behind the scenes, pull supplies or lead a small group. When we started, there were only three volunteers, but the program was small and it worked. With only three volunteers, there’s no such thing as behind the scenes. (Unless you’re the sound guy – which my husband quickly stepped up to do.) After a few weeks, I was asked to lead prayer. On the stage. With a mike.
Pause right here and think a situation that makes you uncomfortable. Now double it and add in fear, insecurity, and light-headedness. That’s a bit of how I felt.
But I did it. And the kids didn’t laugh.
The children’s pastor took me under her wing and began to mentor me. She showed me the ropes in building a program – what elements are involved, how to organize, time management, talking to parents… More importantly, she taught me that prayer is the most important element in planning. Some planning meetings became prayer meetings.
Little by little I stepped into different roles. I did things I NEVER thought I would do. I never saw myself as a leader. Until my mentor told me she saw it. The words she spoke into my life grew. When put in uncomfortable places, I learned a reliance on God. Anytime I step on the stage, I put myself to the side and became God’s vessel. For a time, I was a worship leader. (For those of you who don’t know me, I can’t sing on key and my dance skills are well, non-existent.) That is when I saw love in a whole new way. My husband – the sound guy – ALWAYS turned my mike off during the singing. That’s love. And I’ll never forget the boy and girl who would do the motions a step ahead so I could follow their lead. God has a special blessing for them. (All because they didn’t laugh!) Being a leader means filling roles when others don’t show – even when it’s uncomfortable.
Over the next few years, I went from volunteer, to co-leader, to director. There were some nights the only volunteers with me were my family members or church staff. There were times I wanted to quit. Sure, I got my feelings hurt. But each time I looked into the faces of the children, I knew God was touching lives for Him. Serving God is not about me, but about Him. Serving is learning. Serving is putting self to the side. Oh, and the nights I just didn’t want to go… there were plenty of those nights. You know, as soon as I walked into the church, that nagging headache or stomach problems – evaporated. And if they didn’t – I found someone to pray for me. God always gave me strength to carry on.
Through all of it, God taught me so much more than I would’ve learned sitting in the service. Just as my mentor invested in my life, I tried to also invest in the lives of my team. I’ll never forget the prayers in coffee houses together, prayers in hallways, encouraging emails, hugs, and the life experiences I walked with my team. Leading is investing in the lives of the people in your program, as well as in the lives of your team.
Leading is also about knowing when to step down. I felt the nudge that it was time to move on. Taking off my director hat is hard. After praying, then talking to my husband and finding he felt the same nudge, I knew. The time came to hand it over. Tonight’s the night – my last night. I know the door is still open. I can come back anytime to pray with the kids, fill in for a small group, or just get some hugs. I’m still serving God and part of the children’s ministry, just not leading this area. I wonder if I know what to do in big church?
I’m sad to close the door to this part of my life, but excited to see what God has in store for me now.
I would not trade these four years, or the lessons learned for anything. It was life changing. I thought I was serving to teach children about God and His love. God used my service to change and grow my life. I went from a mom filled with insecurities, afraid to step out of my comfort zone, to a leader. A life changer. Every time I tried to show God’s love to the kids, it came back to me doubled. When I taught the Word, I learned a lesson too. I thought I was teaching the kids, in turn, I was the one taught. I thought I was there to show them God for their lives to be changed – it was me who changed. Being a leader is really being a learner and a lover.