From Seth Godin: “Every job candidate ought to be able to outline the five lessons learned from the leaders they’ve worked with previously. Those unwilling or unable to do so are not paying attention.”
I’ll take that challenge. I’m not a job candidate, but I’m about to start a new job, and I want to be both willing and able to outline five lessons I’ve learned from the leaders I’ve worked with in my job of the last eight years.
Today is for the Christian Education Director I’ve worked with here for nearly six years.
You’re The Ministry
Christian Education Director; Director of Ministry to Children And Families; Children’s Ministry Director–my colleague has been called all of those things and more at our church. Through all those title changes, though, she has done remarkably consistent work, which I think is because she puts her personality fully into that work. No matter her job title, her work bears her unmistakable mark. It’s work only she could do in the way she does it.
Stand Up for Kids
Even in a community that is outwardly friendly and welcoming of children, people can act in a way that privileges the sensitivities of adults (guilty as charged). The only way that changes is if someone calls it out and insists it be different. Someone on our staff team has done that, and it hasn’t been me.
Work in Secret
It was three years into our working relationship before I understood that my colleague had a habit of taking people who had visited the church out for coffee. That’s not, like, an official church or pastoral procedure. She was just doing it. So she had these insights, both into particular individuals as well as into a certain profile of church visitor, that she started interjecting into programming conversations. That’s when I knew, and started to copy her.
Say When You’re Struggling
The temptation to fake it in this work is strong indeed. But my colleague has shown me how to admit when you’re having a hard time with some aspect of ministry, whether that involves a particular skill, like managing personnel, or a more meta issue, like the challenge of balancing church work with other pursuits (my colleague has been earning her PhD while on our staff). Allow people to help you.
Work Like The Artist You Are
My colleague and I completed Godly Play training together in 2010 and then partnered to convert our congregation’s Sunday School for children 100% to Godly Play. She worked like mad at that. Particularly, she sweated the artistic details of how to tell Biblical stories to children from memory, not only herself, but also the new staff of volunteers we recruited to carry the program. Teaching those skills is an art form all its own, and she developed that far more thoroughly than I did, hosting quarterly “confabs” to work on skills and troubleshoot struggles. There again, I copied what she was doing.
I took this call eight years fully aware of the things I needed to learn in the area of Christian Education programming. I got lucky with the Christian Education Director I got to work with for most of my time here, because she knew a lot of those things already, but mostly because we got to learn a lot of them together.