Faith Stretch Marks

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Marks of Labor

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Your stretch marks usually begin unnoticed at first, when you’re
new to children’s ministry. As you give birth to an exciting time
for God, there’ll be contractions and they’ll be painful. We all
make similar beginner’s mistakes–forgetting to sign in kids or not
having enough snacks, forgetting that Timmy’s allergic to
strawberries (you only make that mistake once).

You aren’t alone. We’ve all been through
aching confrontations with a parent who feels her child isn’t
receiving enough attention or is receiving too much attention–of
the discipline kind. We’ve all spent that endlessly long day at
church to finally arrive home…only to have a spouse hand you the
phone with a ticked-off parent on the other end. One principle I
learned early on is that most parents measure your ministry success
based solely on their child’s experience. That’s a tough measuring
stick when you have scores of families looking through the same
tiny lens.

Marks of Sacrifice

The birth of your ministry is really only the start of the marks
you’ll acquire. As you labor on through your journey, you’ll feel
the pain of sacrifice. The time consumption alone is huge. Time is
already such a precious commodity, especially when you have your
own family to love. But the sad truth is that not every child in
your ministry gets that same love and attention at home. For some,
you’re the only person who spends quality time with them. All too
often, you’re the best (and maybe only) example of how Christians
treat the children around them. So it’s a necessary
sacrifice.

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Then there’s the sacrifice of heart. We pour ourselves into
sharing Jesus with children who drift in our doors one day and too
quickly drift away again. I worry about who’ll pick up where our
ministry leaves off. Vacation Bible school is a bittersweet time
for me, and a prime example of this particular stretch mark. Kids
who were delighted and delightful leave after VBS week, and we
don’t see many of them again. What happens to them? This is one of
the most painful marks upon my heart.

     

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