Volunteer

Volunteers,

I wonder, why do you serve in children’s ministry?

I bet it’s because of all the thank yous you get from kids each week, right?

Miss Susan, thank you SOOO much for being there for me and teaching me about God.

Or maybe you serve because you can’t wait to see what wild Billy will do this week. It seems like such great entertainment when Billy can’t keep his hands to himself or can’t stay quiet during prayer. And he responds so well to your loving corrective discipline, doesn’t he?

Perhaps you serve the spiritual formation of children because you love missing big church almost every week. When you signed on to help in children’s church you agreed to serve once a month, but for some reason that turned into four times a month. And now your own spiritual formation and growth is stagnant, but hey, that’s okay, right?

Serving children in the church is often a thankless, chaotic and time intensive calling. I imagine you don’t do it to suffer through all the challenges, rather because of a deep desire to be involved with God in the spiritual formation of young hearts toward faith in Christ.

Some of you serving children got into it because there was a need and you willingly (or begrudgingly) filled that need. But as you gave of yourself over time, I imagine that you have realized the importance of an intentional effort to engage with these young hearts.

We forget this often, don’t we? It’s easy just to serve from week-to-week and get into a routine of preparing on a Saturday night (or Sunday morning right before class!) and forget. We lose the forest for the trees. Sure the trees are important because they make up the forest. But when you take a step back (and up), you see not only the makeup of the forest, but also the trajectory of your efforts.

And those efforts are paying off. It might not seem like it. But be encouraged. They are.

For me, I’ve been serving children on an intentional basis for the last 14 years (9 years vocationally as a pastor). When I look day-to-day and week-to-week, I often ask myself if this really matters. However, if I take a step back (and up), I see what God is not only doing presently in these young hearts, but I see how God has been faithful, and that encourages my faith to believe that He will continue to be faithful in our efforts in the future.

Your current unique circumstances or frustrations are shared by more people than you know. That should be comforting! Be encouraged that despite the challenges you face on a weekly basis with children, their parents and the church, your intentional, sacrificial service to these young hearts matters.

Because even if a child or parent doesn’t thank you… God does. He is our source for security and self-worth.

Even if wild Billy just doesn’t seem to ever get it or obey… God does. God is using your service to Billy to display His grace, mercy and love to a squirrelly and energetic young boy.

And even when ministering to children seems to suck the life right out of you… God is your life. Don’t exalt your service as something that is pleasing to God. Don’t get me wrong, He does appreciate your service. However, your service does not earn you His favor. We get His favor regardless of what we do. Don’t lose your walk with God on the altar of service. That will serve no one, least of all children. We should be serving not because we owe God something, rather, we serve out of the overflow of our love for God. If you are serving out of obligation, you will eventually walk away bitter and empty. If you are serving God second (because He first loved us), then you will continue to serve out of joy and delight, and you will reflect the very heart of God to the children you serve.

You see, serving God second changes your perspective on challenging circumstances anyone who serves children finds themselves. When you are serving God, it doesn’t matter if anyone thanks you. When you are serving God, it doesn’t matter if wild Billy is wild every week. You don’t see just a tree. You see what that tree is a part of, and you believe, even when Billy doesn’t quite yet, what God sees in Billy.

Why do you serve in children’s ministry? You don’t.

God serves children through you.