Friday, February 11, 2011
What I Miss About Pastoring: The Kids
One of the neatest things about being a pastor is the kids. Kids are great. They just love and accept you like you are.
Every year during Vacation Bible School, I'd get dressed up like a character that pertained to the theme that year. They loved that. They'd follow me around and laugh. They thought I was pretty cool. They were right, of course.
It was always something to watch them all grow up in my decade there. To see them know me as "Bruddah" Arthur and then, if I was fortunate enough, watch them to grow and learn the gospel.
I was so careful when evangelizing children. None of this, "who wants to go to heaven?" mess. No, they understood sin and what Christ did.
To watch a child as God touches their heart and see them grasp grace is one of the most beautiful thing one can witness - especially when you see it in your own children. Thanks be to God I got to baptize my two daughters. Moments I will forever cherish.
Kids have some of the best questions and some of the best answers. They let you know they're thinking. They ask about the problem of pain, "Bro. Arthur, why did God make tornadoes?" And to that, my friend, you must shape your answer so that a 6 year old may understand.
I had a church member ask me once about whether I thought Noah's Ark would ever be found. I just wanted to say, "No, it's rotted away." An astute 9 year old was standing there and said, "wouldn't Noah and his family have used all that wood to build and burn with?" I smiled and said, "Excellent answer."
While some of the adults come at you with complaints right before church starts, the kids just run up and offer you hugs. They just want to look up at you and say, "I love you Bro. Arthur." They don't want anything in return except your love.
Especially the kids who come from less fortunate backgrounds. Their parents drop them off or their grandparents bring them. They're just happy to get a little snack at church on Sunday or Wednesday and have people show them some interest and give them a smile.
I remember late at night on one New Year's Eve when I still lived in the parsonage, someone was pounding at the door. It was dark and cold outside. I approached the door carefully and saw that it was a woman and a little girl standing there shivering.
I invited them in. Angelica came into the room and just stood there looking at me inquisitively. I vaguely recognized the woman, a few tattoos covered her arms, nose ring and heavy make-up - but her most obvious feature was that she and her little four year old were soaking wet. The little girl looked up at me with big brown eyes and was crying.
She apologized profusely for coming so late but that her boyfriend had chased them out of his trailer. They had gotten lost in the dark, waded through a pond and found their way to the church parsonage. She begged me for a ride about five miles down the road.
I got them both blankets and put them in the van. I offered to call the police, but she quickly turned that offer down. The girl kept crying, "I'm so cold Mama! Why is this happening?" I realized I knew them. They had visited church several times. The girl had even been to a Vacation Bible School.
I talked to the girl and reminded her of this. I even reminded her of the goofy character I had dressed up as. She smiled a little as the van warmed up.
During that short van ride, all I could think of was, "it's by the grace of God that my kids are in a house warm and cozy. And this poor girls is wet and frozen." I had to fight the tears back.
I dropped them off at a friend's house and told her that if she needed help to come back. She never came back.
But the little girl came back. The next VBS, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off worrying about something stupid when a little hand grabbed mine. I looked down to see a cute little five year old smiling up at me.
It took a moment to register, but it was her. I smiled and she hugged me around my legs and about broke my femur. But it felt good. I just stood there and cried like a big goofball. For the rest of the week, every time she saw me, she'd grab my hand and want me to eat with her, play with her, or sit with her. She hardly ever said anything to me, but I could tell she felt safe with me there.
Those are the moments I miss.