It does not seem that long ago, but in the fall of 2003 I began my journey in full-time children’s ministry in Madison, WI. I had Biblical and theological foundations from my newly earned Pastoral Studies degree and loads of volunteer experience working with children. However, lacking a great deal of maturity, I started ministry trying to be someone else. I grew up in the mindset that children’s ministry was event-driven, using puppets, performance, juggling, clowning/miming, Scripture pictures, and gospel magic. Having no real training in those areas, I took lessons in magic and devoted a great deal of time to trying to become a children’s ministry performer. I patterned my ministry after the models I grew up with and it did not take long before the thing that I so desired to become my entire life (a pastor) felt like it was going to kill me and my wife! God taught me an important lesson: Ministry was not going to work unless I was going to be myself. This was one of the toughest and longest lessons I learn as a young pastor. I wish Larry Shallenberger’s book, Lead the Way God Made You, was around in 2003.
The central message of Shallenberger’s precise work is simply that God created you to lead in a specific way and that’s okay. Shallenberger dispels the myth of the perfect leader at the outset of the book and introduces the dominant metaphor of the book, the theater. It really is a perfect setup for the rest of the content because it touches on a theme that everyone feels and experiences. The content is rich and it leads the reader through a process of self-discovery with the “Dramatic Leadership Assessment Test” and gives Scriptural foundations for each of the Assessments styles (Director, Stage Manager, Drama Coach, Theater Manager, Stagehand, and Production Assistant). For me, the assessment confirmed my leadership style (Director) but gave me critical insights into the other styles.
I loved the tone of the book because the experience of reading felt like I was being mentored by an experienced leader. Here’s some of the parts that resonated the most with me:
• Quote, page 49: “A few years ago, a senor leader in the church pressured me to launch this program. I politely told him that it sounded like a good idea first initiative for the new children’s pastor.” Gutsy
• The “5 Star Training Planner” on page 122 and the Leadership Style Summaries (to share with your team) are some resources that are worth more than the price of the book.
Part of spiritual leadership is the hard work of self-reflection and self- discovery. Use Lead the Way God Made You to help you long the way.
Join the rest of the Lead the Way God Made You Blog Tour!
• June 29th – Barbara Graves, barbaragraves.net
• June 30th – Joe McGuinness, familygeneration.com
• July 1st – Todd McKeaver, toddmckeaver.com
• July 2nd – Henry Zonio, elementalcm.com
• July 5th – Kenny Conley, childrensministryonline.org
• July 6th – Greg Baird, kidmin360.com
• July 7th – Wayne Stocks, stocksohio.com
• July 8th – Jonathan Cliff, jonathancliff.com
• July 9th, Wendy Douglas