I love learning. Anything. In my teen years I taught myself Irish Gaelic for three years, I memorised a whole book on medical terminology, and I read books of Greek mythology for fun. I’m currently attempting to learn how to play the guitar. It’s a lifetime passion. I’m like that with ministry as well. I love learning from leaders and peers and people new to ministry. I’m like a knowledge magpie, wanting to learn from everyone. You may not be as extreme as me, but I think there is a little bit of a learner in all of us.
We hear new ideas of ministry and are intrigued. We go to a conference, hear great ideas and want to implement them. The life of ministry is a continual journey of learning.
But something can happen if we aren’t careful. We can lose our way. And that is a dangerous place to be.
I was recently struck by the contrast of two leaders in scripture: David and Moses. At some point in their journeys, they both had a moment of crisis and action. They both were exposed to new ideas, new options, but they both responded in completely opposite ways.
David as a young man was getting ready to fight Goliath (1 Samuel 17). He was finally entrusted with the weight of responsibility to fight on behalf of his entire people. His king came to him and started to equip David for this next phase of his call to leadership. King Saul gave him advice and weapons, clothes of authority, everything he thought he needed. David walked around a bit, trying it on. Then he decided to put it aside. It didn’t fit. He chose instead to go find what fit for him, his style, his experience.
Moses, on the other hand, responded differently. Moses was also facing a crisis, a moment of leadership that would take him to the next level of his journey. He had led the Israelites out into the desert and was now facing the extreme leadership challenge of managing hundreds of thousands of people. As he sat, listening to people’s struggles, taking their queries to God, and making judgements on people’s quarrels, he was exhausted. His father-in-law called a time out and taught him something new. A new way of management, a system of delegation and power sharing. Moses jumped on board 100%. Exodus 18:24 says, “Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.”
Two leaders, at the cusp of a new season of leadership, both given new things to learn, to try. They chose completely opposite responses, but both of those responses were the right ones. Because they knew who they were and what they were called to do.
Life in children’s ministry can be a constant parade of new ideas, new resources, new things to learn. Some ideas will be brilliant, and like Moses, God will call us to 100%, whole-heartedly embrace it and run with it with full strength, because that new thing is what will enable the whole new season to work. Some ideas will be absolutely brilliant, and like David, God will call us to put it aside because that is not how God is calling us to minister to our particular people at this specific season. He may instead be calling us to pioneer, to reach for what looks like us, to focus on our next steps not the new ones.
Both can be right. Both can be ministry-making and releasing. So as we learn, and listen to each other. As we read new resources and discover new ideas, my question to you is this. What brave response is God asking of you? Is this new thing the vehicle that will unlock the future? Or is this new idea a moment to gather yourself and say, “I know who God is asking us to be right now, and it doesn’t look like that.” Both require bravery and wisdom. God called you to lead these people in this time. He will guide you every step of the way. You can do it.