Life defining moments have several functions. They may show you where you’re going next, what changes you need to make, and even who you are. If life can be defined as a vapor in the wind, then these moments are no more than a molecule contained within that vapor. Yet these microscopic moments create an impact greater than a meteor striking earth.
I have had only a few of these moments over the course of my life. One was when I received my call to ministry in April of 2013. The most recent was when I realized the weight of that ministry.
I can’t say that the Saturday it took place was different than any other Saturday. I was preparing for the next day’s kidmin service just as I normally do, but I was running a little late. I had spent a few hours editing a video to show the kids and their parents the next day, which consumed a large portion of my time. When everything was finally in place, I told myself that it was time to “just pray and leave.”
I’m sure God must have been smiling when that thought entered my mind. He is omniscient after all. What happened next was nothing like the sentiment to “just pray and leave.”
Just like any other Saturday, I began by praying in our nursery, followed by praying in our preschool room. When I was done, I sat on the worn blankets in our elementary room and began to pray. When I was almost finished, our prayer box caught my eye. During our worship response times, many of the kids enjoy writing their prayer requests on slips of paper and depositing them in the box. I extended my hand toward the box and quickly prayed that God would answer the prayers therein. Before I could move on, my eye caught the box again. I needed to pray for the requests individually.
I pulled myself over to the box and slid off the lid. It had been far too long since I looked inside. Once you read the prayers of a child, you begin to understand why Jesus held up a child as an example of the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 18:1-5). Why must we have faith like little children? Their prayers are pure. They don’t need long words to believe that God hears them and will answer. They simply state their request. That’s it.
A large variety of prayers is contained in that box. They range from “Please help my brother to be nice to me” to “Please let mom and dad stop fighting.” Some simply said “I love you, God” and others cried out for violence to end in our world. I rejoiced with the “I love you’s” and cried with the heartbreaking petitions for an end to the challenges they face.
As I held those prayers in my hand, my thoughts jumped ahead to the future. Not all of those who declared their love for God may continue in the faith. The childlike faith currently residing in them tends to get crushed by the world and the circumstances they face as they get older. For some, it may even be crushed by the actions of those of us in the church. I began sobbing and asking God to help me be my best for them. They deserve more than I could ever give.
In Ephesians 4:1, Paul urged the Ephesians to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Those words echo in my mind often. I haven’t always hit that standard. I’ve fallen short many times, and I’ve failed others when they needed me. Yet, this is what I strive for. I want to walk worthy of this calling.
We have the opportunity to instill faith when a person is the most open to the message of Jesus Christ: when they are children. It is an incredible responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. When children are old enough to transition out of our ministry and into youth, the majority of their worldview has already been formed. Have we positively impacted them for Christ, or have we caused them to stumble? This is the weight of ministry. It is probably the most terrifying, yet most rewarding aspect of what we do. This calling is something to be cherished. It is an honor to receive it, but it is not easy. Let’s make sure we walk worthy of it.