Yes, I know. The title of my blog post is in hashtag form. Don’t worry…it’s just for fun.
But really…kids ministry ROCKS. Over the last two years, kids ministry has become a huge passion of mine, and I can’t imagine life without being a part of kids ministry. It’s always an adventure, I’m constantly learning and growing, and God is always stretching me and moving me outside of my comfort zone (whether I like it or not).
As I typed those words, “outside of my comfort zone,” I immediately thought of the most recent time I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I mean, my comfort zone was miles away…
It was already a pretty crazy night at church with a lot going on. One of our classroom teachers hadn’t shown up yet, so my husband asked me to fill in until she arrived. It happened to be the special needs class. Honestly, I wasn’t worried at all. I just finished an education class this spring that was totally devoted to learning about and how to teach special needs or “exceptional” kids, so I thought to myself, “Oh, I’ve totally got this under control.”
I started with just one boy in the classroom, and then a few minutes later, a girl came. Her mom noticed I was a new teacher and seemed a bit worried, but I assured her I was just a fill-in and the regular teacher would be there soon. She stood in the room for a few minutes, watching her daughter pace back and forth with lots of energy. Once she saw her daughter was doing well, she decided she would head to service. The mother told me, “She seems pretty happy right now, but if she comes at you with an angry face, she might just pinch you or something.” I have to be honest…I was a little afraid. But I played it off like I wasn’t and said, “Oh yeah. Normal stuff.” The mom seemed a little relieved that that was ‘normal’ to me (or so she thought), and left.
I stood close to the door while the two kids wandered around the room, pretty much minding their own business. Neither of them really seemed like they could communicate well, so I wasn’t sure what to do. I just stood, watched, and waited for the regular teacher to show up. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this girl (almost my height) came at me screaming with her hands ready to swat. As she neared me, I reached my hands out to her, not sure of what I could and could not do, and said, “It’s okay, sweetie! You’re okay!” Then, she looked at me with a horrifying face, grabbed hold of my arms, scratched and pinched them all the way down, hit me a few times, and walked away. I stood there frozen, with no clue on earth about what to do. (Seemed to be the theme of my night so far.)
This happens about 5 more times in the next 6-8 minutes. I try to call over the radio for help, and no one heard me. I even sent a text message to my husband asking for help, or so I thought. (After the incident was all over, I looked at my phone and realized I never hit ‘send.’ Of course.) She just kept coming back and doing the same thing over and over. Suddenly I realized my forearms felt like they were on fire. I looked down and saw that they were bright red and all scratched up. All I wanted to do was run out that door. But I knew I couldn’t. It wasn’t about me, it was about the kids. I had to be tough and stick it out. (Now, the toughness only lasted so long. As soon as the regular teacher showed up, I walked quickly down the hallway, trying my hardest to hold it all in, made it to our resource room, and lost it. I think my tears were more from fear and shock than from pain.)
It was a painful experience, but more than that, it scared me to death! I realized I had NO idea what I was doing! How in the world can I be a kids pastor’s wife and not know how to handle children? How can I be in kids ministry and want to run out of a classroom and leave two kids alone (remember, I didn’t do that…I just wanted to)? I felt like such an idiot and such a loser.
Once I got myself together, it was time to jump back in and get the night started with my regular classroom. I had to wipe my tears, take a deep breath, slap on a smile, and go play with the kids. We had a blast playing outside for Super Slammin’ Summer. We had a giant inflatable slide and fun games! But all night, all I could do was beat myself up over this situation.
After church that night, we went to some friends’ house to watch a basketball game (Go Thunder!), so my mind was pretty much clear, and I had forgotten about the whole thing. But when I got home, got to bed, and tried to fall asleep, it all came back, flooding my mind. I was so frustrated. I didn’t want to think about it. I just wanted to sleep. I knew it was the enemy trying to take a hold of my mind, and I was beginning to get upset. I began praying and asking God what in the world He was trying to show me through all of this? That I’m a terrible kids pastor’s wife? That I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to kids ministry?
But he had a different answer for me (and believe me, I was thankful). God showed me something that seems so elementary and like something I’ve heard a million times, but I will never forget it. He showed me that staying in my comfort zone hinders me. I can’t learn and I can’t grow when I’m stuck in my little bubble. And most importantly, the lost can’t be reached when I’m stuck in my comfy box. Now, I’m not saying those two kids were ‘lost,’ but had they been, and had I run out on them, I basically would have been saying that they weren’t worth it. That they didn’t deserve to have a few minutes of my time. And that’s so far from true.
If all of us always stay in our comfort zones and always do only what we feel comfortable doing, how will we ever reach people? How will we ever build relationships? How will we ever show the love of Christ with others? Kids need love, acceptance, friendship, leaders, role models, teachers, coaches, and so much more. But we can’t give them any of that without taking a step (or two…or five) away from our comfort zones and saying, “You are worth it. You deserve all of my time and effort. You deserve a smile. You deserve a friend. You deserve to hear about God’s amazing love.” We have no idea what these kids are going through, what their home lives look like, what they may be facing at too young of an age. They need love and support. (I’m speaking specifically about kids in this post, but it really goes for anyone.) One of the beautiful things about kids ministry is that these kids hardly have any expectations for you. Whether you think you’re terrible at whatever you’re doing, they don’t care. The fact that you are giving them time is what matters. In kids church, we dance like crazy people, wear silly hats and costumes, talk in funny voices, and do really silly things. All of those things are WAY out of my comfort zone. But I do it because a) the kids don’t care how stupid I make myself look, and b) because that is what THEY want to see, and that is how we can share God’s love with them.
I say all of that to say this: When you put all your trust in God and take even the tiniest step outside of your comfy box, He can and will use you in crazy, awesome ways. And who doesn’t want to be used by God?!
Seriously, guys. Kids ministry rocks.