Volunteering in children’s ministries over the last 30 years has helped me learn a tremendous amount about myself. I presently work part-time at the second-most awesome place on the planet. (Home is the most awesome place, of course). It is filled with love and some of the most incredible people I know. Made up of less than 5% staff, 15% teens and 20-somethings, another 5% of those over 30, and 75% elementary kids from 6 to 11 years old, this is the place that I learn about children, myself, others, and God. The leaders of this particular ministry have given me opportunities to grow in leaps and bounds. As I have asked and been asked to teach, write materials such as curriculum and fun skits, and act on stage, the openings just keep showing up.
Being a volunteer for about 25 years with no desire to be paid, I learned a phenomenal amount about the Bible through what seems like a thousand chances to teach it. These days, I’m a part-time employee. How amazing is it to get paid for what I love to do! I learn more about the good book every single time I teach. In addition, I have to say that I learn much about life, others, and God from the children I that I teach. In fact, I have to wonder at times, “Who is mentoring who?”
- The kids teach me about freedom and excitement that at times I think I’ve lost.
- They kids teach me how to believe what others say and how to be believable.
- They kids teach me that I can live out what I preach.
- They kids teach me that I don’t have to be uptight and concerned so much about what others think.
It’s fun to watch some of the older kids (3rd through 5th graders) as they get older. They become a little too cool to dance or sing or even do fun activities, at least for a while. However, eventually all that pent up energy comes back out in one way or another. I’ve learned that’s where we, as mentors, can work that for good. We can help them focus that energy in the right direction. How? Any way possible. Want to be a mentor? Experiment! Make a kid a leader for the moment, get them up on stage occasionally when you need volunteers, sit them out of activities if they are out of control, etc. At times, it seems impossible with 3rd grade boys especially, but I have found that even with these miniature wild men that given a little time and a lot of love, even the wildest of them come around. I love hanging out with these uninhibited young people that speak what they feel and have fun with whatever they do. I love helping them grow as they help me grow. Growth can be hard, sometimes very hard, for them and for us, but that’s where we mentors have to stand together and work as a team.
That is perhaps the most fantastic thing about this place that I serve. This is a place of freedom, love, teamwork, and friendship where kids and adults not only learn the definition of virtues; we learn how to live them out among our fellow leaders, our friends and our families. Oh yeah, I wanted to say that one of the virtues we talk about at this place is Gratitude. I must say how truly grateful I am for all that I have here. I’m grateful for a place where hugs and high fives are commonplace. A place where friendships are developed and deepened, songs are meaningful yet fun, smiles and laughter are natural, and support is available at the drop of a hat.