Monday, May 23, 2011

Your First Love

It’s ironic that as a Children & Families Pastor I spend very little time with kids – other than my own of course. In some ways it’s like the principal whose time is dedicated to influencing others who work with kids. Generally it’s only on Sunday mornings that I hang out with children. But even then I’m my time is divided, being equally concerned with the teachers and parents.
I think of when I first began teaching, excited to influence young minds and to be part of their world. In only a few years I saw the trend of spending less time developing relationships and more time working on test scores. Obviously my objective was not to develop friendships, but to develop young minds and hearts. But there was a hint of treating kids like “widgets.” They became clients needing to improve test scores.
Yesterday was a rare day when I got to hang out with kids. Their reward for memorizing eight Bible verses this year? Ben & Jerry’s: pick what you want. They ate personally concocted desserts that only other kids would relish. One girl ordered mint ice cream in a chocolate-dipped cone with rainbow sprinkles. I just got to sit and listen to their giddiness. Once in a while I stoked the conversation a few times to peek into their lives (Beware parents – when you feed kids ice cream they’ll sing like canaries, offering plenty of unsolicited information.).

I’ve recently had a new opportunity to return to my first love – spending time with kids. A few months back I began teaching a weekly Bible lesson to a group of 15 students. These kids are mostly second generation Chinese students that uses our facility for an after school program. Imagine my surprise when I was invited to teach a weekly Bible lesson to this secular group. (More about this opportunity in the weeks to come.) So each Wednesday afternoon for 30 minutes I get to return to the simple: me, a whiteboard, a stale room with a few posters, and about a dozen wiggly little bodies that talk 100mph and have unique things to say.

How often in your life do you feel a thousand miles from where you thought you were headed? Maybe you became a nurse to heal the sick and now you’re defending your hospital in court. How about the architect who first loved playing with Legos and is now serving breakfast at the local diner? Or what about the musician who loves singing praises to God but spends most of her time rewriting music that fits the record label’s stale requirements?

Life can get dull and we are often in need of inspiration. Our passions, plans, and dreams get squashed by bottom lines, bills, and greed (sometimes our own). I’m fortunate that despite spending less time with kids and too much time on paperwork, much of my time defaults to conversations with adults. Despite filing papers and answering email I still feel that I spend much more time than the average Joe/Jane doing exactly what I want.

Are you stuck? Maybe you’re not nearly as bad-off as your neighbor, or your kids aren’t starving either. Our help is the Holy Spirit’s renewing work. His mercies are made new according to Lamentations 3. May you find a little life in your day or week. A reminder that you are wonderfully and uniquely made. Here’s to more kid interactions or whatever it is that you crave in your (paid or unpaid) work week.

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