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To Build A Fence

Darrell Fraley

What other boundaries should you define for yourself? Since all of us have different capacities, skills, talents, and knowledge for leading children's ministry, then logically, the detailed topography of your boundaries will be different from anyone else's. Yet there are four very important questions you need to answer to determine your boundaries.

1. What kind of person are you? Do you like working with people, or would you rather work with things? What are your signature strengths?

Recently, I led my children's ministry staff through the Gallup organization's StrengthFinder assessment ( and the book Now, Discover Your Strengths by Buckingham and Clifton. This process revealed what made each of us on the team tick -- and what ticked us off. It helped us understand and appreciate each person's personal, specific boundaries.

2. What kind of energy reserves do you have? How much sleep do you need to function? Do you work in quick shots, getting a lot done in a short time, or are you a marathoner who takes more time to process and consider all possible outcomes? Some people have unbelievable stamina when working on a task; others need to rest in the process. Do you exercise? Do you eat properly? To determine your energy boundaries, you must listen to your body. It'll tell you when you need recharging. If you don't listen to your body, it'll break. A few signs that you may need recharging are fatigue, irritability, depression, or lack of motivation.

3. What kind of budget is right for your ministry? It takes money to do ministry, pay staff, purchase curriculum, laminate posters, provide snacks, copy VBS invitations, do background who's paying for all this?

If you carry the financial burden for the children's ministry, it'll only be a matter of time before you feel that others are taking advantage of your heart for kids and your personal time and financial resources. It's okay to contribute your money to the church for children's ministry, but be sure the church stands behind your leadership with a budget. A budget says the church is with you and accepts responsibility for the financial expenditures it takes to operate a quality ministry for children.

4. What kind of expectations inspire or drain you? We can't have a discussion about boundaries without also talking about expectations. As a children's ministry leader, you have four sources of expectations: your boss, children's parents, yourself, and God. If at any time these four sources of expectations oppose one another, it'll create undue stress, worry, and tremendous displeasure.

Several years ago, I read Unlocking Your Sixth Suitcase by Jay Carty. One of the important principles I took away from that book was the idea of the 60/40 rule, which is: You must connect with and enjoy at least 60 percent of your job and its expectations. If you view more than 40 percent of your job as a downer with draining expectations, you probably won't make it.

Actually, the key to success in any leadership position is the proper match of reachable expectations with one's capacities. Once again, remember that God made each of us with different capacities.

I think it's funny when someone says to me, "I can't understand how you lead a large children's ministry, travel extensively, teach about children's ministry, write books, and still have a life." All I can say is, "That's what I enjoy doing." I'm inspired by that particular subset of expectations. On the other hand, I'm mystified by the person who can take a resource room, organize it, and keep it stocked with all the supplies. What might inspire me may drain you.

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