When Children’s Ministry Becomes Your Identity
by: Cindy Bultema
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1a).
You are a ministry leader. It’s what you do, and it matters.
As a children’s ministry leader, you may know what it is to have ministry permeate your calendar, consume your thoughts, and drive your ambitions to the point that your ministry shifts from what you do to who you are. Ministry can become your identity, the way you introduce yourself, and the name tag you wear: “Hello, My Name is Children’s Ministry Leader.”
Though you are a hero of faith, if your identity is centered on anything outside of Jesus—even children’s ministry—you have an identity crisis. I know. Thanks to my friend Jen.
Within an hour of Jen sitting at my kitchen table, I had filled her with two cups of coffee and an earful of lies.
“I’m a disaster; I’m fat, I’m disappointing everyone, I’m…”
That’s when Jen placed her coffee mug on the table with a thunk, leaned in, and asked, “Cindy, who said that to you?”
Her question stopped me mid-sentence.
Compelled by love, she pressed for an answer, “Really, Cindy, who said that to you?”
My thoughts rolled back through two decades, countless voices, and one high school bathroom stall.
Scrawled on the chipped bathroom wall of the girls’ restroom were six words.
“Cindy is a fat red cow.”
Those words pierced when I was fifteen, and unfortunately, were still adhered to me like a sticky name tag. “Hello, my name is Cindy. I’m a fat red cow.”
Now much had changed since that dreadful high school day. The restroom had new paint; I had new friends like Jen, and most importantly, I had surrendered my life to Jesus. I was now a Jesus-loving girl on mission, telling anyone who’d listen, how He set me free. All that was old was made new! He gave me a new identity and new names.
Yet here I was stuck in old muck. The lies hadn’t lost their stick!
I wonder if you can relate? Have you surrendered your life, but not your labels? Maybe you’re wearing name tags that read, “Hello, My Name Is…Not Enough, Rejected, Inadequate, or Unloved?” Or maybe you’re wearing ministry name tags tied to your position, your successes or failures, or the number of children or volunteers in your ministry?
If that’s your story, here’s my question. “Friend, who said that to you?”
Who told you that you’re not good enough, rejected, inadequate, or maybe even unloved? Who told you that your worth is based on the opinions of others, the size of your budget, or the number of heads that show up at your midweek program?
It wasn’t Jesus! The voice of Jesus is love, and His words are always Truth.
Jesus not only receives us, but He also frees us. He sets us free from lies, labels, and name tags that may wound but were never meant to stick.
He teaches us in His Word how to live set free. Ephesians 4:22-24 says to rid yourselves of the old self…and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Here’s the thing. Lies don’t fall off; they are taken off. We must choose to peel them off one by one with His Truth.
The Truth is Jesus has named you from “A” to “Z.” You are…
- “A”—Accepted. Your worth does not come from parental accolades or ministry accomplishments.
- “B”—Belong. You belong to God and you matter to your ministry team.
- “C”—Chosen. God picked you and gifted you. You are the leader He can use to make an eternal difference in the lives of this generation!
- “D”—Delivered. He delivered you from old patterns, lies, and habits and made you new.
- To “Z”—Zealous for God. He is why you are passionate that this generation knows Jesus.
After Jen’s question, I got back to the basics, A-B-C style. And of all the Truth-filled names He’s given me, I have this one on repeat: “L”—Loved. Loved. Period. Yes, I add a period to loved. I am loved, no matter what! No matter how I feel, or how many kids showed up on Sunday morning, if I’m making my quarterly goals, or what anyone scrawls on the bathroom stall. I am Loved. Period.
Friend, so are you. When old name tags start to stick to your new life, remember that you always have a choice to where you bend your ear. And Jesus says you are seen, known, and so very LOVED. [Period]
Your identity can hold you back:
- I’m terrible at communicating with adults.
- I don’t have enough money, time, or resources.
- I’m disappointing everyone.
Or your identity can be Jesus-centered and Truth-filled:
- I am qualified (Colossians 1:12).
- I am enough and I have enough (2 Peter 1:3).
- I am LOVED (1 John 3:1).
What you choose will change everything for you and your kids.
Question #1: When introducing yourself, how do you finish this sentence, “Hello, I am ______.” Does your answer reflect your Truth-filled identity in Christ?
Question #2: What child needs you to ask, “Who said that to you?” Then choose a way to share this today: “You are Loved. Period.”
Question #3: Listen to the voices speaking to you. If it’s a lie, ask God to help you “put it off.” (And if it’s too sticky, phone a prayer friend.) “Put on” Truth by declaring you are Loved. Period.
Friend, as you plan, prepare, and pour into kids and your ministry team, declare your Truth-filled identity. Remind your soul: I am a Child of God, Seen, Known, Enough, and so Loved. What you do matters, but it does not define you. Your Truth-filled identity is in Jesus. [Period]
Cindy Bultema is the Executive Director of GEMS Girls’ Clubs and has served in ministry for over 20 years. She is passionate about reaching girls and women with the life-changing message of Jesus. Cindy lives in West Michigan with her husband and their four children. When she’s not running her full household, you can find Cindy walking her two dogs, meeting a friend for coffee, attending her son’s hockey games, or trying to figure out what’s for dinner. Connect with Cindy at www.gemsgc.org.