Gaining Respect For Your Ministry, Part 1

There is a secret issue just under the surface in the ministry lives of many children’s ministers. The issue is the feeling of a lack of respect from others about what we do. We work with children and are separated from the main service. It’s easy for us to feel removed, forgotten, taken for granted and disrespected.

We can feel disrespected by our leaders and fellow pastoral staff as we sit through staff meetings listening to conversations about a service we weren’t a part of. We can feel disrespected by other ministries when our equipment is thrown aside when our room is used for other purposes. We can feel disrespected by parents when they want to side-step check-out procedures and pick-up their child how and out whichever door they want. Even our own volunteers can unintentionally make us feel disrespected when they are consistently late or call in sick at 9:30pm Saturday night.

Though as a whole the Church has come a long way in realizing the validity of ministry to children and families, she still has a long way to go. And who cares about the Church as a whole if your church happens to be functioning a few years behind the curve. There are still plenty of churches and plenty of pastors that do take children’s ministry for granted. It’s a reality for many of us. My point? All of your feelings about being disrespected may be right!

As a minister you should be respected… at minimum you should not be disrespected. But there is a hard truth: If you’re not a part of the “big-show” on Sunday morning, what you do will generally not be regarded as equal or as important. Even in the perfect and ideal church, this will always to some extent be the case.

So what now? Do we quit? Do we try not to care? Do we buckle down and claim that we’re doing it for the Lord and the kids anyhow? Do we convince ourselves that it’s prideful to want equal treatment and attention after all? Or do we start to get bitter and demanding? Spiteful of our peers and leaders? Neither direction is beneficial or acceptable.

This article is the first in a short series so I’m not going to try to address and answer everything at once. My goal with this first post is to validate your feelings. To let you know that others out there have felt it… and how some of us are dealing with it. But I will say this…

We’re a support ministry… not the main ministry.

I like what I’ve heard Jim Wideman say. He says he doesn’t see the title “Children’s Pastor” in the bible… so he figures it falls under the “Pastor” category. He’s saying that without the head Pastor there is no Children’s Pastor or children’s ministry. Without the “big-show” there is no “little-show”. We are there to serve and support our Pastor and the parents of our churches… even if they never know how much we do for them. Secondly…

Respect is earned.

Respect isn’t given, it’s earned. Sometimes we children’s ministers forget that. We think that we’re owed special treatment because of the things we endure. The reality is that we do a job that very few do understand. Most folks are scared to death of children (though I’ve never understood that) or think of them as dirty, bratty, needy ragamuffins (I do understand this one). To many our job falls somewhere between the folks who hand out bulletins and the folks who clean the toilets. So it falls on us to earn the respect that we do indeed deserve. Not because we’re prideful but because respect in ministry results in ministry that’s easier to do, and easier to attract others to do with you. One more…

Not everyone shares your vision, nor should they.

Just accept it. No one on the earth is going to have the same passion or vision for the ministry God has given you like you do. Not even your own pastor. Example: Do you have a vision for my ministry? No? Well I don’t really have one for yours either. Same goes for the choir at your church. They don’t really have a vision for your kids. Even your parents… they have a vision but it’s for one or two kids (theirs) not the whole group of them. Everyone has their own calling and passion and you have yours. Don’t be bitter about it, relish it. It’s yours. God gave it to you.

Next post we’ll talk about how to go about being a ministry (and minister) who earns proper respect. In the mean time I would love to get your feedback! If any of this has rung true, let me know in the comments. Even if it’s just a simple, “Amen!”

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