It was one of those Sundays. Actually, it was one of a series of those Sundays. You know what I’m talking about. You arrived at church extra early, and you stayed late. While everyone else was eating pancakes for breakfast or ordering lunch at a restaurant, you were setting up or cleaning up so their preschoolers and elementary kids could have a positive experience at church. However, the experience didn’t feel positive to you. In fact, you dragged your weary self out to your car in the empty church parking lot, thinking that all your work was for naught. But, was it?
Well, that depends. Whose work was it and why did you do it? If your Sunday toiling is your work and you do it out of extrinsic or selfish motivation (guilt, pride, ego, etc.), then maybe it is for naught. However, if you show up every week because of what Jesus did for you on the cross and because the work is not yours but God’s, then you do not labor in vain.
I have been part of kids ministry all my adult life as either a volunteer, a paid church staff member, or the spouse of a staff member. In each of those roles, I have found church work to be challenging and downright hard. There are days I want to quit. As a volunteer sometimes I’m tempted to say, “I’m just a volunteer; why do I put up with this mess?”
Sure, the 10-year-old girl hurt your feelings or the 3-year-old boy punched you in the face, and some kids didn’t show up because their parents had “something better” to do; however, Jesus experienced far worse. And, Christians all over the world are persecuted every day for their faith. I say that not to induce guilt, but to remind you to place your misery in perspective.
Satan wants you to quit. The more you show love to children in Jesus’ name and point them to our Heavenly Father, the more Satan tries to tempt you to quit with thoughts of despair. What do those thoughts do? They distract you from focusing on Jesus and the kids He loves, and they cause you to doubt your Kingdom effectiveness.
What should you do when your body, mind, and spirit are exhausted and screaming for you to give up? Scripture is quite clear. “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)
Church work is hard. Kids ministry is hard. We are living in a fallen world inhabited by sinful people, including you and me. By God’s grace, we can get out of bed before daylight on Sunday morning and stay until the last child is out the door. And maybe, just maybe, we can go home, take a nap, and start all over the next week.
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to Lifeway. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the grandparents of two adorable grandbabies.