This was originally sent out as an email to encourage our children's workers at FGC:
I have been desiring to send out an encouraging email to the children's ministry folks for awhile now, but always lacked any inspiration for whatever reason. Last night I was talking with my hubby and I realized something. Hopefully it is inspiring.
To begin, my major was child development. I completed many in-classroom observations in order to fulfill the requirements for my degree. One project was to track one child's cognitive, physical, and emotional development. I would take pictures and record her actions and reactions to things. During this time I also observed the classroom structure, such as teacher child interactions, adherence to policies, safety, etc.
All of this to say, I was NOT encouraged by this. It became a systematic child care system documenting diaper changes, bottle feelings, etc. I found it difficult to enjoy the child. Rather I was focused on completing my project. I became discouraged especially since there were SO MANY good child caregivers. They always knew more than me, knew how to respond to the babies perfectly, and could balance everything gracefully. Then one day, Aaron came home from ReTrain with a brochure from Mars Hill children's ministry. It was fancy. It had a million cool programs. It was awesome.
I realized that I could NEVER have thought of something so fancy, so cool, so awesome. I could barely manage one toddler/infant class here at Free Grace. I was thinking about whether or not I really should be doing what I am doing. Isn't there somebody better than me here?
Of course I continued serving here in joy, because I love the children. But these past two weeks I was really encouraged by a few people and one incident. Pastor Matt is continually full of encouragement and is always excited to hear my updates. I have had a few people say some really nice things to me about children's ministry. But this past weekend really sealed the deal in my head.
I was teaching the kiddos about Hannah and her prayer to God for a baby boy. The children were learning how God answers our prayers and loves us. I was telling the children about how just about 2 years ago, I prayed to God for a baby and He gave me Sydney. I asked the kids if they wanted to go visit my baby (in the next room). They excitedly said "Yay" and so we took a field trip to see my sweet answered prayer. Sydney waved, the kids waved back. It was precious! But I didn't think too much about it all, it just made sense to give an example. But April (hope you don't mind Apey ; )) said, "how cool! A field trip to a real live example! Awesome!." or something along those lines....
It doesn't sound like much what she said, but what it meant to me was this:
God has given me the ability and experience to love and teach children. Though I may not be as good as others, and much of child care is paperwork and drudgery (in corporate child care), God gave me the ability to think quickly in the classroom and help the children REALLY UNDERSTAND the story I was teaching.
Sorry this is long, but I want to encourage you. Whatever you are gifted in, there will always be better people. Also, there will always be things there, like paperwork, that can dilute your joy in serving where you are gifted. But know, God has a plan for your gifts, and He will NOT waste them. He will use you despite yourself for His glory. Others will benefit in Christ, and many will be won due to your faithfulness and obedience. Hopefully here at Free Grace, the children will know the Lord and love him because Christ uses people like me and Caroline, and April, and Tyler, and Carolyn, and Hannah, and Courtney, and Felicity, and Noah, and Mark, and Amee, etc.
"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing- as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Sprirt."
Notice the emphasis in verses 6-8
Epaphras had a gift and was faithful in teaching (vs. 7-8) and because of it, God blessed his efforts and the Word is growing (vs. 6).