I taught Sunday school yesterday. Saturday night I was complaining about it in my head. It went something like this:
“Dang. I’m on the rotation tomorrow. I mean, I love kids but I’m too old for this. It’s hard. It’s so difficult. They don’t listen and I’m probably not getting through anyway.”
I then moved onto my self-righteous mode and that went something like this:
It’s always been like that. Children’s ministry is a hard one to fill. So, I woke up yesterday morning, made the snack, prepared the balloons for the games, packed my lesson and headed out.
You don’t get much spare time when teaching Sunday school. There’s no time to talk, interact or fellowship. I’m focused. I have to be. These kids are young, wild, energetic and precocious.
It’s demanding. It’s hectic and by the time its over, well, I’m a sweaty mess. I work them and they work me.
“Quiet, listen, sit still, pay attention……” lots of that happening in the classroom. I repeat myself, I bribe them, plead with them and yes, give into them.
We play, and play hard. I’m the game lady. Whenever I teach, it’s about games. I’m not crafty or creative; games are my fall back. But I’m good at games. Dozens of years of youth ministry has equipped me for the madness. And then, we study scripture, or at least I think we do. “Am I making any sense to them? Will they remember anything? Do they even listen?” Snacks, prizes, verses and then church ends. Parents come grab their kids and their gone.
By the time I get done cleaning up the room and packing up, almost everyone in church has gone home. It’s hard. I’m the “pastor’s wife” I need to be meeting people and connecting. Under my breath I grumble, I complain.
But yesterday something happened. It was nothing huge, I mean there weren’t any baptisms and I didn’t have kids begging for more lesson that’s for sure. But something spoke to me in a way I desperately needed.
Walking into the church I was chased down by Bella. Bella is a seven year-old girl in Sunday school. She jumped in front of me to get my attention. I was talking with someone else and she persisted until I acknowledged her. She put a colorful piece of paper in front of me…..
“I made this for you,” she said proudly. She handed me a beautiful picture she had colored.
Now I’ve been given drawings and pictures by many kids. But this was different. I mean, this little girl was at her home making her teacher a picture while her teacher was home complaining about teaching. What is wrong with me?
Kids don’t just make pictures for random people. This little girl sees me. I’m special to this child. Somehow I’m impacting her in ways I will never see or know. I pour into her and it matters. It is regarded. And although I may not see the fruit of this ministry, it doesn’t mean the buds aren’t there.
I realized that even in my grumblings and bad attitude, God still chooses to use me. I don’t deserve it at all. And the work being done really is important work. It is critical to the kingdom of God.
It starts in a 7-year old little girl and moves throughout her life. It stays with her during those awkward uncomfortable junior high years when adolescence is cruel. It moves along with her through high school when peer pressure is far too intense to handle. It continues with her when she’s gone off to college and is trying to figure out how to become an independent adult. And later, she draws upon those lessons when her marriage is strained and her children are struggling. It’s her foundation. It’s what she knows. It’s who she is. No matter how far she may drift, those little lessons on Sunday mornings are permanently etched in her brain. They draw her back and bring her home because he will not let the little ones be snatched from his hand.
I get to be a part of this. I get to participate in the faith journey of these children. Somehow, some way, God is using me to transform heaven.
It isn’t a burden. It’s a privilege. It’s an honor. And it matters.
Take heart Sunday school teachers. Don’t grow tired or weary. The work is not for not.