Faking It With Zeal
My wife and I have been a part of the Middle School Ministry at church for the past three years. Prior to that, I worked with my son's Boy's Club group at church for four years from grades 2 through 5. The tasks have changed a little over time, but the goals are essentially the same. Provide a safe, fun, encouraging environment for our kids to establish their young faith while helping teach them the basic tenets of the Christian faith.
How am I qualified to this task, you ask? I frequently ask myself the same question. The answer is I'm not. I have no theological training to speak of. While my faith is strong, I would not say that I have any firmer grasp of the Bible than the guy sitting in the pew next to me. One might think that I should be good at teaching kids to be able to do the job. Well, wrong again. Nothing special there either. Just average in my dealings with young teens.
What I do have is a willing heart. Couple that with a bit of old Catholic guilt and deep-felt need to be a part of my kids' spiritual upbringing, and there you have it.
Seven years of making it up as I go along.
Seven years of doubting myself and my abilities, but trusting the God that put me there.
If you know me at all, you know I'm an introvert. I know this about myself and so, in some respects, the Middle School Ministry forces me outside of my comfort zone. I know it would be easier to let someone else, some extrovert, teach my kid while I cloistered myself up at home. Something inside me told me that's the easy, safe way out, and so here I am, seven years later.
Seven years of winging it.
Seven years of giving my best, but constantly second guessing myself.
About the only thing I've had going for me over the years is, I do love kids. I remember those years well when all I wanted to do was fit in. Through working with them though, the single most revealing thing I've discovered is that these kids just want to be listened to. While teaching them is important, perhaps the more important thing is letting them know that they are valued, they are good, and that God loves them. Sure they screw around, kids are kids. But I found that if you respect them enough to listen to their struggles and fears, they respond much better to correction.
Today at church I went in with the same trepidation as 7 years ago. What if our small group is quiet/awkward/screwing around/etc? What if they ask a question I can't answer? As it turned out, it was one of the best small groups this year. It's situations like these that convince me that God has a sense of humor.
It's also situations like these that make it glaringly clear that this is exactly where I should be.