Hailey has served in children’s ministry for 11 years. Her experience growing up in Sunday school, Awana, and church played a significant role in her now ever-deepening relationship with Jesus. It also affected her educational trajectory in college. She greatly enjoys building into kid-influencers, interacting with parents, and introducing children of all ages and backgrounds to God through faith in Christ.
Hailey loves being a children’s ministry director in a local church, but lately she’s started asking herself a humbling question as a leader: “Am I still in the right seat?”
There are no easy answers to this heart-gripping leadership quandary. Every ministry leader must face reality—needs change and new frontiers open. God is in charge of closing and opening doors. Sometimes this requires leaders to change roles and sometimes not. Determining when to stay and when to go is a pressing, and quite challenging, question for any leader.
It can be draining to lay awake at night as a leader wondering, “Am I taking someone else’s spot?” However, when you have confidence that you’re still in the right seat changes how you jump in to serve. It impacts the way you interact with people and tackle problems. You don’t want your leadership impact to erode by constantly wondering where you belong.
To be an effective leader, you need confidence during this ministry season. You need quiet assurance from God’s Spirit that you’re still in the right seat to serve kids, families, and leaders courageously. Or, you need clarity that it’s time to open up your role for someone else. Here are five seat-settling questions that will help guide your discernment process as a leader.
Five Seat-Settling Questions for Leaders
Instructions: Take time to reflect on your answers to the following questions on your own and in prayerful conversation with a few people you trust. It can be wise to talk these through with family members and friends who are not directly impacted by your leadership role. While these are written as closed questions, “yes” or “no” will be difficult for you to land on. The purpose is to push your thinking toward as much clarity as possible. Allow God’s Spirit to join you in wrestling through the tensions and emotions each question raises.
1. Can I still see a way forward?
This question is about vision—a crystal clear picture of a preferred future. People can end up in harms way when a ministry leader loses focus or can’t find their way. In Hailey’s case, she answered this question with a big “yes.” Church life wasn’t without challenges, but her ability to articulate and pursue strategic disciple-making ministry in this setting remained strong.
2. Is my energy still energizing others?
Positive chemistry is a great thing in relationships. When two or more people enjoy each other’s company, it’s evident to the world around them. Ministry leaders need to be an encouraging—not discouraging—force in the lives of colleagues and team members. Do you still light up the room when you show up or does your presence work like a dimmer switch? What’s going on inside that your energy is sapped? It’s possible that it’s time for a change in leadership roles. Or, perhaps there’s something in your control that can be changed that will breathe life back into you as a leader.
3. Are my gifts and contribution still aligned?
Revisit Scripture passages about spiritual gifts. See Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 for starters. How has the Holy Spirit gifted you? Does it match the role where you’re currently leading? In talking with people closest to you, would they agree with your take on this? If how God equips you isn’t suited for where you’re currently leading, this will be an uphill battle emotionally and relationally. Hailey started out in ministry with kids and families primarily as a teacher and shepherd. Over time she began to exhibit leadership and administration too. Not much has changed over the years, so it’s helped her—and her network of supportive friendships—conclude that she’s still in the right seat as a leader.
4. Am I still eager to grow and serve?
“Leaders are learners.” Just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it’s false. Responsible leaders recognize it’s not their job to have all the answers. It’s more important for them to ask great questions, seek out unconventional perspective, make sense of complex issues, bring in godly counsel for wisdom, and pray for discernment. Honestly, serving falls by the wayside when leaders stop growing. Pay attention. Are you struggling with wanting to be stretched, to dig around and discover new things, to take in fresh insights and tools so that people can be cared for in the way of Christ? If so, it might be time to switch seats as a leader so God can employ someone else for a season.
5. Is God still changing lives, including mine?
In John 15, Jesus presents a beautiful picture of what fruitful ministry should be like in close relationship with Him. He also communicates strong words regarding the consequences of fruitless living. Clearly, disciples are designed by God to produce fruit by Him, with Him, and for Him. One of the ways Hailey determined she was still in the right seat as a leader was by paying attention to how the Lord is using her to positively impact kids and families for Christ. She frequently heard life-changing reports from moms and dads, children and youth, and leaders in her ministry. Not only did it inspire her, it caused her heart to grow in godliness as well. No wonder “yes” was Hailey’s response to this final seat-settling question.
Follow-Up Exercise: Your responses to the questions above will probably change over time. A wide variety of circumstances can influence whether you tip toward “yes” or “no” at any point during a ministry year. And, these aren’t the only questions to weigh when trying to sort out which seat to sit in moving forward. Consider taking inventory at the beginning or end of every calendar year. It can be a great launching pad for discussion with God and with people in your life who love you far beyond where you lead.