A few weeks ago I gathered with some of the teachers and classroom helpers for two of our children's ministry classes. We met at the request of one of the class level coordinators. She had heard frustrations voiced by some of the teachers under her care. As I prepared to meet, my mind raced with possibilities:
- Will we brainstorm ideas for the classroom?
- Will this be a whine and complain session?
- Do I really need to be here?
- Do these people even really care about the kids?
- How dare these people question me and the decisions I've made!
Before we met, I repented of the pride and arrogance in my heart. God brought James 1:19-20 to mind: "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." I acknowledged that was not my posture. I was judgmental. I was quick to assume, quick to judge, and quick to justify.
As the meeting started, I saw that all my preconceived worry and stress was unfounded and unhelpful. The team aired constructive criticism about their collective struggles with our current curriculum. It's a curriculum I had chosen. But as I listened to their concerns, I saw that change is necessary. As I listened to the team, I saw something else too. These people truly care for the little ones under their charge.
James 1:19-20 is true for all believers. It is especially important for leaders and pastors. Learn from my experience. Be open and willing to listen to those who serve with you. Don't only be willing to listen. Actually do it. If the team brings critique, there is usually at least an element of truth in what they say. We need others to help be aware of our imperfections. We need a team of leaders to help us see when we've made a bad call. Rather than cling to authority or your first judgment, admit your wrongs. Trust that they pursue the same vision you do: to help kids grow into mature worshippers. Then listen to the team.