Heart Matters: On Significance

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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.

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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.

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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.

So…is what we do significant? Well, what does the little voice
in your head tell you?

Dan Trippie is a pastor in Buffalo, New York.

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