I often tell my students, “If you cite or quote an author, to avoid the dreadful academic identification of being a plagiarizer, be sure you give credit where credit is due.” So, as I was searching for a title for this article, “Legacy Leadership” seemed to fit perfectly. But, to be honest with you, it’s not my title. The title comes from a father and son, Kent and Aaron Stroman. These gentlemen co-authored a book by the title, “Legacy Leadership.” We hear a lot about the different types of leadership styles these days. There is the servant leader, the transactional, transformational, autocratic, authoritative, democratic, coaching, laissez-faire and the list goes on and on.
This article isn’t a book review or report on the Stroman’s book, though I do like their perspective on children and leadership: “Children can become leaders. Some people assume leadership is like age: the more trips around the sun—the more you get it, but that is a false presumption. Leadership can be learned, even at a young age.”
How often do we give children opportunities to be leaders in our ministries? What does leadership with children look like? We’ve all read the story in the Bible of the little boy with five loaves and two fish, often called “The Feeding of the Five Thousand”. But who was the real hero-leader of the story (besides, Jesus, of course)? Was it the disciples? Nope! They were too busy counting how many people they had to feed and how much money they had amongst them and trying to figure out how to make it all work. Was it the 5000? Nope! They were just a group of people who got caught up in listening to the greatest Teacher of all time, when they realized they had neglected to pack a lunch, and there wasn’t a food truck to be found. Then a little boy was discovered amongst them (no, it wasn’t a setup between him and Jesus).
When he left home that day to go play, hike, or search for long-lost hidden treasures; his mom knew he probably wouldn’t be back in time for lunch. So, she packed him a lunch. As he made his way to town that day, kicking and throwing stones, picking up frogs and who-knows-what-else along the way, he rounded the corner of Main Street. There in front of him were masses of excited people talking, jabbering, and following a man out to the edge of town. Well, this little boy got caught up in the moment and started following the crowd, too!
The man that they were all following seemed to have a lot to say, and soon the little boy’s stomach started to growl with hunger. As he started to open up the cloth bag which contained his lunch, that’s when it happened! Several men spotted him, grabbed him and his lunch, and took him to the man who had spoken. As the man looked down at the boy, His eyes showed love and compassion. The smile on His face told the boy that this was the most kind, caring, and gentle man he had ever seen or met! This man introduced himself to the little boy and asked the little boy what his name was. This was the first time in a long time that a grown man had taken the time to ask him his name. The man recognized that this boy trusted Him with pure, childlike faith.
The little boy was willing to give his meager lunch so it would help meet a need. And when it was all said and done, that little boy’s lunch of five loaves and two fish fed over five thousand people—with 12 baskets of food left over! The little boy couldn’t wait to get home to tell his parents of the miracle he saw and experienced that day! A little boy made a big difference that day. How often are we quick to dismiss kids and think they can’t make a difference or contribute in any way? But, just as the little boy in this biblical account made a difference, there are kids in your ministry who can make a difference, too. Look for them, train them and give them an opportunity to contribute.
What are some ways kids can be leaders in your ministries? Look for ways to train them to be leaders. Start a discipleship program. Ask for the kids to be committed to the program. Ask them to sign a commitment form. Ask their parents to sign the commitment form as well. Meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly with the kids in this discipleship program. Train them for ministry opportunities, such as:
Greeting Team: Welcome other kids, help them find seats, and be a buddy to new or shy kids.
Multimedia Team: Run sound and media for kids’ ministry services or events. Prayer Team: Lead prayer from the front.
Registration Team: Help others find their nametags and sign in for programs.
Worship Team: Demonstrate actions to songs and help lead during worship time.
Service Team: Weed an elderly person’s yard, collect winter coats, pack lunches for the homeless, or raise money for mission projects.
Here’s a secret about training up kids to be leaders in children’s ministry: when they graduate from children’s ministry and move into youth ministry, your youth pastor will want to take you out to lunch! He or she will thank you, because you have passed off a group of kids who know not only what it means to lead but know how to be servant leaders! You’ll have kids who know how to pack lunches, just so they can give them away!
You can access this entire magazine for free here: Edition 29