This morning was my first morning teaching kids at our church I taught once before a couple of Sundays ago, but we had combined our class with another class so it was a little different. This time it was all me…with five 1st-3rd graders.
The last time I had taught children had been 3 years ago, and before that I had been teaching them for nearly 8 years. So when we left that church to come to DBC, needless to say, I was completely burnt out. I had absolutely no desire to teach kids or help with kids in any capacity, and I told the preacher that the second Sunday I attended. He assured me that I would not be pressured to help with them. The only way I would help out was if I wanted to. I’m a bit ashamed to say that I really had no intentions of ever helping from that point forward. And I made that known to most if not all of my friends there.
Fast forward to about a year ago, Summer, 2017. God had been working on me and I had really been growing in my relationship with him. I started to have passing thoughts of helping with the children. I would quickly dismiss them when they would come though because “I’m not really a kid person“. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I do have a kid. But this would be other people’s kids, not mine, and I just didn’t really know what to do there. So that’s what I kept telling myself. “Kids are not my thing. Besides, I’ don’t even know them.” At our old church, I had practically grown up with most of the kids. Some I met when they were crawling and by the time I left they were entering middle school. Numerous births had occurred over the years. I had taught pretty much all ages at some point or another there, so I knew all of them. I was comfortable with them. It came naturally. But this? This was completely uncharted territory.
The thoughts began to grow stronger over the coming months, and I kept burying them. But it didn’t seem to matter how much I tried to “bury” the thoughts and by this time “slight” desires; I just couldn’t escape it. Slightly annoyed by all this, I remember saying to God one day, “God, I have nothing to offer here. I can’t teach them. I’m not good enough for this. There are plenty of people who are far better, far more gifted, far more energetic than me to do this.”
Immediately I thought of the apostle Paul. It is said in 2 Corinthians 12 that he was given a “thorn in his flesh” to keep him from becoming conceited. Paul evidently saw this as a weakness, and he pleaded with the Lord 3 times for Him to take this “thorn” away. Instead, the Lord says this to him in verse 9:
“My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness”.
Teaching children was (is) a weakness for me. It’s not that I “wasn’t a kid person”, it was that a had a lot of fear and insecurities that I was wrestling with. Each time I brought them before God, He would give me the same answer. “Lord, I can’t do this. What if they don’t like me?” “My grace is sufficient.” “But God, I don’t even really know these kids. I mean I know a couple, but I don’t really know them and I doubt they know me.” “My grace is sufficient.” “But what if they ask me a question that I don’t know the answer to? Or worse, what if I accidentally give them a wrong answer?” “My grace is sufficient”. “But God, I don’t even know what age I would teach!” “My grace is sufficient.” “What if something happens? What if they aren’t paying attention, or start fighting, or just act unruly? I don’t discipline well. I don’t know how their parents would feel about that? What if I make a mistake or do something wrong? What if I make someone mad? What if I’m no good at this? What if I completely and utterly fail?” And for one more time, “My grace is sufficient.” I had my answer. It was clear I wasn’t getting out of this one.
Interestingly enough, around that very same time I was having a conversation about something totally different when our [mine and Brandon’s] community group leader said something that I really needed. “I am convinced of this, that whatever God calls you to do, He will sustain you in that, no matter what.” In other words, “His grace is sufficient“. He didn’t know about the internal struggle I was having. In fact, no one did. Because if they did, it would mean I would have to eat the words I had been speaking for 2 years by this time: I would not teach/help with the kids. And let’s be honest, that was a blow to my pride. But it didn’t matter, soon after I gave up fighting, making excuses, and being a slave to fear. I approached a good friend of mine and told her what I felt God leading me to do. “Are you sure? Why the change in heart?” So I told her everything, spoke with a few different people over the next couple of months, and long story short – here I am today, reflecting on my first morning with 5 children.
I don’t know how the kids felt. For them, it was probably just another Sunday. But for me, it was the beginning of a journey. As I sat in a circle with them, discussing our lesson, I can’t even put words to all I felt in my soul. I would look into each of their eyes as they were speaking and see them light up, see their warmth, and see some a little shy. And it was an instant love for them. Sure, there were distractions. You never really know what any of them will say next (“squirrels” are real y’all). One had marker all over her hands (of a different color that she didn’t even use I might add), while another almost got a ball taken a way (but this was handled quickly and guess what, he didn’t even get mad at me for making him put it in his pocket!). But it was absolutely perfect, natural, and life-giving. By the end it was completely clear to me that this is where I’m meant to be, at least for this season (who really knows what the future will be?). And I can say with confidence that God’s grace really is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weakness.
So today, today I am a kid person. And I love it.