4 Approaches to Ministry

Have you ever seen a group of kids at a playground and observed the leader of that group and how they interacted with the kids? Were they playful? Were they distant? Were they stern and over-corrective? I believe this is a way for us to look at how ministry leaders approach those we lead. These four approaches are not the “end-all-be-all”, but I think they will help us identify our strengths and weaknesses in our leadership and allow us to grow and change into Jesus’ way of leading.

The Friend Leader: This is the leader who is playing with the kids, in their sandbox, part of their games, and in the grass. This style loves to be everyone’s friend, on their level, and not display too much authority so as not to overpower the kids. This style is approachable and loving, but have difficulty bringing correction or leveraging authority. The “kids” love this style because there’s little accountability and high approachability, however they will eventually need someone to lead and not just be their friend. The Friend Leader must embrace their role as a leader when the time calls for direction and discipline.

The Intimidated Leader: This is the leader who does not want to be with the kids because they don’t know what to do with them. They are stand-offish, and do not communicate on the child’s level, if at all. They would rather delegate someone else to take care of the kids because they feel overpowered by them. The Intimidated leader will not be approachable or loving, instead they are fearful and use intimidation to direct them.The kids know they intimidate the leader and can easily manipulate them or leverage the power in their favor. The Intimidated Leader must break the intimidation and allow God’s love to flow through them.

The Tolerating Leader: This leader tolerates the kids’ presence, seeing them as distractions and wants to just do what is minimally necessary to care for them. The Tolerating Leader’s communication is condescending and arrogant. They expect the kids to behave like adults and holds them to a higher standard of accountability that is unrealistic. The kids know they are tolerated and have little to do with this leader, they will manage themselves to prove to the leader they are worth the attention. The Tolerating Leader is also prone to over-correcting, rather than nurturing a child’s imagination, they correct them for minor issues.This leader can only be effective if they take the time to lower their guard and be approachable.

The Celebrating Leader: This leader is a friend, but also a guiding director. They aren’t afraid to get on a child’s level but they leverage their authority to provide guidance, accountability, and encouragement. This leader celebrates the kids’ skills, talents, abilities, etc. while giving opportunity to grow and use those talents and abilities. Their communication is simple, direct, and loving. The leader and the kids have a level of respect for one another and the kids can take correction well from this leader because of that mutual respect.

There’s an account in the Bible about Jesus’ interaction with children, they loved him and he loved them (Luke 18:15-17.) the disciples acted like the Tolerating leader, overreacting to them but Jesus wasn’t afraid of them. He celebrated them and instructed us to be more like them.

As you lead remember you are a child of God and He celebrates, loves, and guides you in all you are. Let’s take that approach to those He has entrusted into our care to lead and minister.

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