Until recently, I have to admit I didn’t really *like* other people’s kids. I loved mine, but maybe just didn’t have time or energy for other kids…especially when mine were little. I didn’t *mind* other kids, but I was not drawn to them. Now that I have been doing Girl Scouts with my girls for five years and I’ve been a Sunday school teacher for one and a half, things are changing. Just this fall I became a tutor at the junior high level and substitute teacher aide in the classroom. As these worlds overlap, I can see God is giving me His love for all kids with whom I come in contact.
Having my kids in public school has been a great way for me to meet and impact children beyond the church doors. Volunteering in the classroom, working there, being a Girl Scout leader…these things give me moments to just engage kids and show them they matter.
I have not always appreciated the moments I have with these kids, but now I am am seeing them for what they are. Each thing we do with them has value. When life is busy and running non-stop sometimes we feel like it is all a waste, it doesn’t make a difference, but the truth is, moments matter. Even just a few minutes of dedicated attention and love can change a life forever. God can use just minutes to change lives.
In the book “Just a Minute” by Wess Staffford, president and CEO of Compassion International, talks about the moments that adults give to children that change their lives forever. Good or bad, adults can impact children. Stafford illustrates the spirit of a child as “wet cement”. You can still make a significant impression in the lives of children. As they get older their “cement” begins to harden. We can’t miss our chances when they are young enough to make a positive impact. Parents, teachers, Sunday school teachers, coaches, and even strangers can touch the lives of children in just moments and the younger we start the better.
Each moment we engage a child or young adult and pour God’s love into their lives is a seed planted. We have to scatter as many seeds as we can, but we aren’t in charge of forcing them to grow. God takes it from there. He can grow those seeds in their heart and turn a single encouragement or piece of godly advice into a life changing moment.
Just this week I was able to go on an all day field trip with a classroom of 8th graders. I have been in the classroom with these kids for the whole school year a couple hours per week, but this extended time gave me a chance to plant more seeds. I asked them questions, I encouraged and guided them, and I listened. I don’t know what God will use them for, but I pray that He is glorified in their lives by those purposeful moments.
Fan the Flame
I often pray that God would help me to fan the flame of His gifts in my children’s lives. He has created them as unique individuals. He knows why he made them and what path they should take. I haven’t identified all their gifts, but every now and then I catch a glimpse. When I do I try to encourage the gift and give them the tools to strengthen it.
We can do the same thing for every child with whom we come in contact. Keep your eye open to anything positive you can see and voice it. You never know if you are the only one they will ever hear from with that positive recognition. God might use your words to light the fire in their hearts that drives them for the rest of their lives.
We all have the opportunity to fan into flame the gifts and talents in children other than our own. I hope that other adults would do it for my kids. Sometimes they hear guidance better coming from someone other than me, or maybe another adult is more uniquely suited to give my child new tools.
What better way is there to find out about kids than to ask questions? Have you always lived here? What do you like to do in your free time? What is your favorite food? What is your favorite or worst subject in school? This is how you get to know these kids.
I am a talker. Sometimes I get to telling my story and forget to let anyone in on the conversation. I find that if I force myself to ask questions, all of a sudden I am getting to know this child. It is amazing what they will tell me. Their answers reveal their hopes, dreams, and values. You can’t assume you know anything about these kids by looking at them from the outsides. Each one carries a different story and often times they are a *much* different than the story in your own home.
Watch for moments. Make moments on purpose. When you volunteer in the classroom, when you lead an after-school activitiy, when your kids’ friends come to your house, you just might find a moment to show the love of Christ by what you say or what you do. Don’t miss it.
Pray the lyrics of this Brandon Heath song…and God will give you the moments.
“Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity
Give me Your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me Your heart for the one’s forgotten
Give me Your eyes so I can see”