Each month our church staff leads chapel for nearly 70 children at our church day preschool. We typically divide up responsibilities, but honestly, my role is usually minimal. I might do a prayer or a welcome. However, I’m always there because I love seeing the children. I love hearing their answers to Sarah’s Bible story. I love watching them follow Justin’s motions to the songs as Richard plays his guitar. I love seeing their artwork. I love their smiles and their awe when they walk into the sanctuary.
This week is Holy Week and it is a very busy week in the life of the church. There’s more to do and less time to do it, so I decided to skip chapel Monday morning. It was easy to rationalize. It doesn’t take four staff members to conduct a 20-minute chapel service for children. I needed to spend my time in my study preparing for services later in the week. So the staff went ahead without me. I didn’t regret my decision until…
Wednesday night after we celebrated a traditional Jewish meal called a Seder Meal, three-year-old Georgie Howell looked up at me with those big brown eyes and said, “I missed you at chapel.” Chapel was two days before. Yet when she saw me she remembered that I wasn’t at chapel.
And a little child shall lead them.
The ministry of presence is powerful. We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the love we communicate to others just by our presence and the little acknowledgments of love we send when we recognize others by name.
I discounted that my presence meant much to the children, that I wouldn’t be missed, and that I had more important things to do. But what could be more important than blessing a child, or being blessed by a child?
When I told Justin this story, he said, “Oh, at the end of chapel a little boy raised his hand and asked where you were.”
As you move through the remainder of this Holy Week, many of your good deeds with children or adults may go without the reward of gratitude or evidence that your efforts are warmly received. I want this story to remind you that every day someone is looking for you, waiting for you, and needing your love and attention. Don’t doubt your worth.
If you ever do or if you ever think those you served don’t appreciate your efforts enough, keep in mind that when we serve, whomever we serve, it must be as if we are serving Jesus himself.
While being missed by children melts my heart and motivates me to place myself in situations where my day will cross paths with theirs, my real motivation ought to remain being one of Jesus’ followers.
If I’d thought about it a little more, Jesus, the one who rebuked the disciples for not allowing the children to come to him, would not likely have chosen more study time over celebrating chapel with the children.
“And a little child shall lead them.”
Thanks for the lesson, Georgie!