Is Your Ministry Cheating Your Employer?

focusOne of the problems that we often face as volunteers in children’s ministry is maintaining focus in our “day jobs.”  When you are passionate about something, it is hard not to focus on it and hard not to get sidetracked about it.  Think back to the first time you really fell in love.  How much time did you spend thinking about your new love?  How much of your day was consumed dreaming about what the future might hold?  If you are parent, do you remember the first days back to work after your child was born?  How often did you stare at their picture wishing you were home?  How much of your time was spent contemplating/worrying about their future?  How many times did you call home just to see how they were doing?  This tendency towards distraction is consistent in anything that we are passionate about.

When I am not very intentional about it, it is very easy for me to let my passion for children’s ministry distract me when I should be focusing on my day job.  Since I spend a chunk of my day working with computers, it would be quite easy to allow my mind to wander, to dream about children’s ministry, to think about the lesson for the coming weekend and more.  On a more concrete level, things like e-mail, conferences, online research and more can easily interfere with your “day job.”  Instead, I must be very intentional about focusing on what I should be doing at that particular moment.

When our passion does not align with our responsibilities, there is clearly a tendency to get distracted from our responsibilities.  Here are some of the things I do to help me maintain my focus:

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Are You “Just a Volunteer?”

justavolunteerA while back, I made myself a promise.  I resolved that I would no longer refer to myself as “just a volunteer” when people asked me what my role was in Children’s Ministry.  You see, when people ask me what I do, I don’t answer “I’m an accountant.”  First of all, that sounds really boring.  Even as I write, I struggle to keep my eyes open.  Secondly, whenever I do tell people that they ask for help with their taxes.  I don’t like taxes.  I don’t do taxes.  I usually struggle to get my own taxes done on time.  No, when people ask me what I do, I tell them, “I work with children.”  If they ask how or what it is I do with children, that opens the door for me to talk to them about my passion for children’s ministry.  But, the truth of the matter is, I am a volunteer.  I am not a full-time Children’s Pastor or Children’s Ministry Director.  That is not what God has called me to do, at least not yet.  He may at some point in the future call me in to it, but for now I volunteer in my church’s children’s ministry.  I work in ministering to children of divorce, I teach a large group of kids, I lead a small groups, I run games, I work in VBS, and I do whatever else I can to help.

For a long time, this just didn’t seem like enough to me.  When I decided to start blogging, I naturally started writing about the things that I liked to talk about.  Those were God, my family and children’s ministry.  Then something funny and quite unexpected happened.  People started to respond.  People started to ask me questions about children’s ministry – can you imagine?  I started to have conversations with people about children’s ministry.  People started to send me children’s ministry products to review for the blog.  I enjoyed, and still enjoy, every moment of it.  There was, however, a part of me that felt a little bit like an imposter.  Who was I to talk about children’s ministry?  My experiences paled in comparison to the people I was talking to, collaborating with, and learning from who oversee what seems like an entire empire of children’s ministries.   What could I offer to these people?  What could I possibly have to say that would help, inspire or guide those who do so much more than me when in comes to children’s ministry?  After all, I was “just a volunteer.”

Then, in a moment of clarity that could only have come from God, I realized/remembered something.  The way we are, and what we do, is no mistake.  God made us exactly the way he wants us, and he put us exactly where we are supposed to be.  When I started writing and blogging, I did not do it to influence other people.  I did it to record my thoughts.  God prompted me to put myself out there.  I didn’t know why at the time, but figured being obedient to God is a good thing and maybe there was an outside chance that out of 7 billion people on this planet that someone might find what I was writing to be useful.  My job was to put it out there and let God use it however  he sees fit.  Whether I am a volunteer or a guru does not matter to God.

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