For the past month or so, I’ve been a “shepherd” over a children’s Sunday School group at my church. It’s been quite the experience for one of several reasons. First, I’m not really a kids person. Not that I don’t like them….I just don’t know what to do with them. We just stand there and gawk at each other. After a few minutes, they either decide I’m awesome (where they gather this info, I don’t know) or they just continue gawking. Either way, though, I’m not one of those people who naturally has children hanging all over them. Secondly, I haven’t taken ongoing responsibility over anything in awhile. To be honest, even the responsibility level for this is pretty moderate. Four weeks, I sit with the kids in the assembly and hang with them when they hear the lesson in their small groups. Then, at the last 5-10 minutes I go over a memory verse and prayer. Once a month, I go to a meeting of the shepherds and help the kids with an hour-long service project. That’s it. Not exactly hugely influential or burdening.
Why did I do this, you ask? No reason other than I thought God told me to. Something about my needing to learn to appreciate children. And there are times when I am aware that I still have a ways to go in appreciation, such as tonight when one of the young ones was arguing with me. Despite the “one cookie” rule set out by the Children’s Minister, this girl insisted that she had not eaten a cookie (even though I saw her eating it) and was grabbing for another one. In times like that, I can’t help but think, “I wouldn’t be having such conversations if I were working with older people…” Still, that’s why I’m here: the older ones I’m fine with, but the younger ones intimidate me, and God said I have to learn to appreciate them. Therefore, I stumble on, awkwardly staggering along the “road to child appreciation.”
Tonight was my first service project with them, and I think I got to get a glimpse of that appreciation. They were singing at a local nursing home, and the looks on the people’s faces as they watched the kids were priceless. I think I got the best view in the house though. There was a young mother who had come to watch her child, and she had a baby on her lap. She was sitting next to one of the nursing home residents. Watching the look on the elderly lady’s face as she and the baby interacted with each other…well, it made me smile, and I was just watching. I’m not sure if I could say I’ve had a recent experience of a child bringing light into my life like that, but this makes me think one day I will. I’m actually starting to look forward to it.