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Heart Matters: On Significance

I remember leaving downtown Nashville one warm summer day, feeling quite satisfied with our new church's first-ever mission trip. Our children's ministry was the very first ministry in our newly planted church to venture outside the familiarity of our community and serve people in need. It had been a remarkably successful -- and satisfying -- day of ministry.

And to make it even more special, teenagers who'd graduated from my previous children's ministry in Tampa, Florida, had raised enough money to join us on our mini-mission trip. They'd traveled from Florida to Nashville to make certain our new children's ministry got off to a good start.

As I drove down Interstate 65 that afternoon, I felt all was right with the world. That was, until I heard that still, small voice inside my head. (Well, okay, it actually came from the back seat.)

"Is the youth leader from Florida a real minister," the preteen cherub in the back seat wanted to know, "or just a children's minister like you?"

As you can imagine, some of the bliss from the afternoon wore off at that moment.

I'm sure you've heard that same voice -- whether inside your head or from the back seat. The voice that tells you you're not doing "real" ministry -- you're just the children's minister. I think all children's ministers have at one time or another heard that voice.

Though the boy's query came out of innocence, I must admit I questioned whether his was a belief held widely in our church. Did the families of our church really view me as a wild, courageous warrior, doing battle to protect our children from the lies of a wily enemy? Or...was I viewed as nothing more than a child care coordinator, making sure that supplies are in stock and rooms are clean for Sunday morning? As the long days of summer slowly progressed, I continued to be dogged by thoughts of insignificance.

Then it happened: My 7-year-old son came home one afternoon singing a silly tune. At first I paid little attention -- the tune was a familiar childhood song. But as he sang on, I listened a little more closely. And I realized the words he was singing were quite a bit more colorful than the ones I knew. As a parent, I wasn't ready to discuss the meaning of the lyrics with my son. But ready or not, the reality of our culture had found a way to pilfer just a bit of my son's innocence. And I was angry!

That day a louder voice reminded me why I've committed my life to shepherding children. As I gently talked to my son, I pondered the children in our world who've had their innocence stolen in small and not-so-small ways. Who'll lead them? I wondered. And I answered my own question: I will.

You and I are commissioned to the noblest of callings. Perhaps we'll never get a standing ovation from a large Sunday morning congregation, and that's all right. We're more than "just" the children's ministers -- we're charged to defend, equip, and love the Kingdom's youngest, most precious subjects. what we do significant? Well, what does the little voice in your head tell you?

Dan Trippie is a pastor in Buffalo, New York.

What's on Your Heart?

Send your 500-word story to "Heart Matters," Children's Ministry Magazine, P.O. Box 481, Loveland, CO 80539-0481. If we publish your article, we'll pay you $125.

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