Persevering in Ministry to Children: A Lesson from Daniel
So you’re serving in children’s ministry. Welcome to a real life lions’ den! You thought you were special, didn’t you? “What a gift it is to be chosen for service,” was your mantra when you first got started. Little did you know that things would become discouraging along the way, but you stayed faithful. The words of 1 Peter 4:11 rang in your ears: “if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides.” So you keep pressing. You keep serving. You keep sacrificing, all the while looking forward to that faithful day when you and everyone else will come to find out that your labor was not in vain.
It’s so easy to dismiss the story of Daniel and the lion’s den as a mere children’s story. But, there is so much to be said not only to the student, but particularly to the teacher who oftentimes feels like she’s in a sort of den herself. That’s not to say that the children we work with are bloodthirsty lions, but let’s be honest, they are hungry! Some of them have gone the entire week without praying or hearing the Word go forth in their homes. It can be quite intimidating to consider the monumental role we play in the spiritual formation of children, but it doesn’t make the task any less necessary and important.
It’s so interesting to me that the Bible has much to say about how Daniel came to be in the lions’ den but so little to say about what happened while Daniel was actually in the lions’ den. All we know is that Daniel came out unscathed and unharmed. Just like the stone was placed over the mouth of the lions’ den, the doors to our Sunday School classes shut every Sunday. Much of what happens during that time goes unnoticed by so many people, but evidence of what transpired should be seen in what happens when the stone is rolled away and the Sunday School teacher, who is suspected to have been devoured by the group of rambunctious children contained therein, comes out and boldly declares like Daniel, “Everything is okay because God sent His angel!” Every lesson may not go as planned and there will be bumps along the way, but everything will be alright because the Lord is with us every step of the way. All He needs from us is a willing spirit.
Working with children can be one of the most thankless jobs in the church. It’s so easy to get discouraged and assume that you are not making a difference. When I start feeling reduced to being little more than a security guard in a holding cell, I look back and remember the people who invested in me as a child. I’ve probably met thousands of people in my lifetime, but the faces of those faithful few who chose to sit with me and a group of my peers in the basement of Bethany Presbyterian Church, those are the faces that will be forever etched into my mind. Though I don’t recall every lesson they taught, the fact that they were there for us communicated a love that’s contributed to the thirst I have for the Savior today.
Remember the attitude you had when you first started working with children? Remember when it was such an honor to be chosen for service? Remember when it didn’t matter how the lesson turned out because you knew that God was at work in the classroom? Don’t allow yourself to feel threatened by circumstances (the lions) in the classroom. Instead entrust yourself to the one who created the lions. Place your attention completely on the planting, and leave the increase up to Him!
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