Tonight, while my son and I made brownies for my classes tomorrow, I began to reflect on the differences and similarities between the Christian ministry and teaching. For three years, I served as a Children's Minister for a local Methodist church. During those years I supervised a paid staff of nursery workers, the volunteer staff, and oversaw the curriculum and lesson planning for the children. Overall, there were about 80-90 children that were served in the ministry weekly.
During those years, I loved thinking of new ideas. I went to conferences and visited other churches for fresh ways of reaching kids and making their time at our church meaningful to them. I took my whole ministry team up to a church near John's Creek. Their children's area had beautiful murals painted on the walls all themed according to their lessons. They had a huge playground with an enormous slide right in the middle of the church for the kids. Our team was so inspired that we came back, and began an entirely new curriculum based on different learning styles. We painted all the walls in fun themed colors, spent countless hours decorating and getting donations to help spark up the surroundings in any way that we could. Our team was so excited! It went really well too, until space became an issue. The adult Sunday School classes were expanding so they needed our children's rooms. The adult classes complained about the bright colors of our walls and decorations, so they took it upon themselves to repaint it- a dull beige brown color! Oh well...and so it goes. Yes, ministry taught me a great deal, which brings me to my reflection on the similarities between education and ministry.
The following are 7 values that I believe education and ministry have in common. It takes a lot of dedication and purpose for both of these servant minded professions. It has been interesting for me to reflect on the similarities.
1. Passion- In both ministry and education you must have a passion to make a difference in the lives of others.
2. Purpose- You must know your purpose. In ministry you are helping to bring and share the love of Christ. In education, you are teaching the content to prepare your students for success in the workplace and beyond.
3. Compassion- In both ministry and education you must have compassion for children and others. We must be there for our students and their families, and try to support them the best we can.
4. An attitude of servitude- Ministers and educators work best when they are servant minded. We should look for opportunities to serve others and put their needs before our own, whether it be our colleagues, parents, or our students.
5. Flexibility- We must be able to roll with the punches. The paint example illustrates this perfectly. My ministry team had spent days painting and decorating those rooms, but we had to be flexible and realize that it wasn't working for the church as a whole. Although disappointing at times, as teachers, we must also be willing to be flexible and keep the bigger picture in mind.
6. Dedication- It is not always easy working in a servant minded profession. It takes many hard working hours, and sometimes time away from the family. In ministry I had many late night board and administrative council meetings. The same can be true in education, whether you are a teacher, administrator, or PTO volunteer. This can be difficult for many people. However, I've always tried to involve my children in the process as much as possible. They help me with lesson planning, come to events, and I talk with them and get their opinions and ideas. I try to always make them apart of what I'm doing, so that they feel valued as well.
7. Optimism - Always bring your best, even if you don't feel like it. Everybody has bad days, but we must try to give our worries to God, pray, and count our blessings. This is true on Sunday mornings as well as in the classroom. In our hearts, we must stay positive and know that the future is looking bright!