Reflections of a Children's Worker

I’ve been a Children and Family worker in a local Baptist church for five years. I went straight into the job after four years with SWYM and can definitely say that it has been fun, exciting and a privilege. It has also been difficult, frustrating and really hard work. Have I made mistakes? Of course. Have I wanted to quit? Yes, at times. But through those times I have learned so much. So let me pass on a few tips, as food for thought.

1. Make your time with God a priority

This has to be number one because without God, what is the point? We need Him to guide and steer us in our work and in our whole lives. It's not just a matter of having a daily quiet time but rather of relying on Him in everything that we do. Listening and talking to God can then become part of our whole being. One of my favourite verses is Proverbs 5:3:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”

When I start trusting my own understanding, I need to be careful. When I’m busy in my role and concentrating on my to-do list, it’s easy to forget the God whom I am serving in the first place.

2. Let go, let God

I am definitely someone who likes to be in control, so I have to remember this all the time. I have to let God do the work in people's lives. In doing so, should things not turn out the way I planned, I mustn't get disheartened. Instead I must see it as an opportunity for God to work in my life and for me to learn from that experience.

3. Don't underestimate the power of relationships

Building friendships is key to my role. In the last five years trust has been built between the people in my church, the local community and myself. Doing this takes time, but it's a wonderful faith filled experience to journey with those around us. I consider such time as an investment, to show people that I will stick with them. Every time I visit a school, it builds trust. Every time I have open and honest conversations with families, it promotes integrity. And though it may take time, what a privilege it is to see people change and grow. Can it be messy? Too right! But Jesus didn’t say following Him was easy; He said it would be painful and difficult. The greatest thing we can do is to love one another no matter what, because He loves us no matter what.

4. Don't get caught in the comparison trap

It is easy to look at that church down the road, who seem to be doing amazing things, and compare ourselves negatively. For me the most dangerous times are when I feel disheartened about my work. Always remember that God has placed us where we are. St Therese of Lisieux said:

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”

Trust God to use your gifts and skills in a different way to those working in the church down the road, because you are unique.

5. You can't do everything yourself

One thing I have learned over the past five years is the importance of building up a team around you to share the load. In order to do that, there will be times you have to say, 'No' to just doing things yourself. For a long time I felt as though I had to do everything, I thought it was expected of me. But if you want to build up a team, you have to let go and give them opportunities to contribute. That can be really hard, especially if you have a specific vision of what needs to happen. Fortunately God changes us and helps us grow. So allow Him to remind you that sometimes we need to ask one another for help. For we are one body with God given gifts and talents. So why not allow others to use their gifts to help you?

6. Have someone to whom you can be accountable

When I left SWYM, one of the things I really missed was my mentor. It is such a blessing to find a person you can trust: a friend, prayer partner and someone to whom you are accountable. Meeting regularly with them is so important. We all need people with whom we can be open and honest; people who in return will be open and honest with us when needed!

7. Make time for yourself

It is easy to get caught up in the church bubble. I work all week doing 'churchy' things, which is great. But it can't be my whole life. I try to make sure that I keep my day off as my day off! Sometimes it is so tempting to take work home, but it's really important not to do that. I consciously go to events that are not church related, such as the community choir or monthly book club and I really love it. I get to meet new people and learn new things. Plus when the opportunity arises, I can talk to them about God.

There is no definitive guide to being a Children's worker. I am still learning all the time. It's easy to get bogged down by admin, rotas, finding volunteers etc... But God has placed each of us where he wants us to be and He uses us to the best of our abilities. How amazing it is to journey alongside young people and their families, seeing them grow in their faith and flourish. That is what makes it all worthwhile. With God leading and guiding us as we take on our roles, we have no reason to worry. He is always there with us in everything we do.

- Becky Allison

Becky is a children and family worker for a Baptist church in Weston-Super-Mare. Her favourite parts of the job are building long lasting  friendships with families, Messy Church and visiting local schools.  In her spare time she enjoys travelling, watching movies, catching up with friends and eating lots of pizza!