Back to square one, except it’s a little different this time, I hope.
Today I was reminded of why for months I cut myself out of children’s ministry and any sort of work that involves people age 5-12. For a while, I would run away at the sight of a child. It stemmed from that unpleasant experience one Sunday morning, when I spent so much of my time, effort, and money, planning what I thought would be a great lesson. Ironically enough, the day’s topic was “Respect”. I wanted to incorporate games with the lesson, and a secret point system that would award the best-behaving child a gift (of a Domo-kun straw from 7-11). I guess I had high hopes that maybe this time, I would be able to turn my streak of bad lucks in leading Children’s Sunday School around.
A week after I started working at the FBC Summer Day Camp, I can say that I got a lot more comfortable, and I’m no longer terrified of the little diabolical creatures called “kids”. I am extremely thankful that I get to TA the 6th graders, who although are not on their best behavior at times, are generally easy to lead, teach, and just hang around with. My Mandarin class on the other hand (that ranges from 2nd graders to 7th graders), is a totally different story. For some reason, the kids were extremely rowdy and hard to control today. I was never one to be strict and yell, but today the little petty things just snowballed into a short temper. My teacher, who I help out with in class, was also in a bad mood today (as he warned the kids before class started).
Maybe it had something to do with the weather, who knows; but I yelled at so many kids today that I kind of just lost count. There was an unpleasant moment, where I was yelling at a child to stay out of the snack kitchen and wait for his teacher, just as the Summer Day Camp administrator and inspector crossed my path, I was given a ‘look’ and nothing more. Although there was no urge to burst into tears at the sight of their disobedience this time, the entire day was reminiscent of that Sunday morning for me. Sometimes I feel like the kids remember me yelling at them more than they remember the actual lesson I taught. I absolutely did NOT plan to schedule my entire summer working with kids (VBC the week right after SDC), and if I was in my “right mind”, I probably would’ve laughed at such a thought. I was a little skeptical when I first got the call, but this time around, I didn’t feel a strong resistance to the work. I think this has something to do with my attitude towards service. For a week now, I’ve been taking to heart more of what the messages for the teachers are. The parable of the Vineyard workers (Matthew 20) was something that especially spoke to my heart.
God’s asked me to change the way I view and approach service, and then perhaps the petty little requests from the kids wouldn’t bother me as much. I keep looking for something in return from these experiences, but I guess I’ve completely missed the point about service. There’s no grumbling about the amount and difficulty of the work, it only serves to make one work reluctantly; what to do instead is pray that God will grant you the ability you need to do the job. I guess what I’m praying for also extends beyond my interaction with kids, but patience is very hard to come by in this type of environment. Even I am surprised by how long I’ve already lasted. This is an encouraging sign for me that maybe I am starting to take a step toward the right-minded service.
So today I go back to square one; today I anguish over the children’s misbehaviors; today I plead for rest and guidance. But today I also ask for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, that I can get up early tomorrow to face the kids again and get a second shot at changing their lives.