Following When Leading—

I stepped into our weekly staff meeting thinking, “I really don’t have the time to be here.” I was feeling the tug of my to-do list. So many things were on my plate. Personally, we had an extra family member living with us, two kids starting a new school, and an 18-month-old who was still struggling to walk. In ministry, I was juggling being full-time, overseeing both the nursery and elementary children’s ministries of our large church, and caring for families and volunteers with big needs on top of that. 

 As we started the staff meeting with a devotion time, I shamefully opened my Bible for what felt like the first time that week. I remember thinking, “I have no business being in my role. I am not taking my own discipleship seriously.” I went through the list of all the people I was called to lead and disciple: the children, the parents, the countless volunteers, and our nursery workers. I felt discouraged and weary. 

 I decided to take a step back and look at my priorities. By just reading through that first paragraph, it is easy to identify where they were. I was drowning in the tasks ahead of me. Life had become hopeless and difficult. My priorities needed to be realigned. To do this, I went back to Scripture, specifically John 15:1-17. Here are some of the observations I had as I read through these verses. First, I saw an authority structure: the Father as the vinedresser, Jesus as the true vine, and us as the branches (vv. 1, 5). This structure is the most beneficial, life-giving, and joyful way to live (vv. 4, 11). The only way the vine remains and bears fruit is by staying connected (vv. 4, 5). Our goal in staying connected to the True Vine and bearing fruit is to glorify our Father and show we are His (v. 8). We abide in Him by abiding in His word and His love (vv. 7, 9). And the one that punched me in the gut: we can do nothing apart from Him (v. 5). In my own effort, I was spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. 

 After thinking through what I had read, I knew what my main priority needed to be. I needed to stay connected to Jesus, the True Vine. (And not just for myself, but for those I was called to lead and disciple. My hope is for them to be connected to Christ, too!)

 There are two practical ways that help me keep my main priority in focus. First, I keep a small devotional book handy for when I need help jumping back into Scripture. I choose something that has scripture, is easy to read, and realigns my heart to the True Vine. Second, I make it a priority to be in a weekly Bible study at my church, which is not always easy when you are on staff. At times, I have walked into Bible study as I was dreading the volunteer who finds me to say they are not going to be there the following Sunday, or I have been worrying about a question or concern from a parent. But even though it is hard to be in a Bible study, it is well worth it. Being in a weekly Bible study with fellow believers keeps me accountable to being in God’s Word, and I get to learn from so many who have gone before me. The bonus is that I leave feeling connected to my church family as well!

Our walks with the Lord look different depending on the season of life we’re in. Sometimes you may feel like you are very connected to the Father and at other times not so much. I do pray that in whatever season you find yourself in, the joy that comes from being connected to the True Vine fuels the desire to abide in Him and His Wordall for His glory. 

To Watch a video on this topic visit our children’s ministry website HERE.


Laney Stayton  – “In one way or another, children’s ministry has been a part of Laney’s life–starting as the child of a pastor and missionary, then through volunteering at her local church as a young adult, and now as a mom of three. After taking a quick detour as a certified shorthand reporter in Texas, the Lord called her to serve as the Children’s Ministry Director of her church in Chattanooga, TN. She has always had a love for children and desire to help them grow in their understanding of God through His Word and she is glad she can still do that through her role as a “children’s ministry volunteer!”?