As the New Year begins I would like to start off by thanking all those who work with children. Whatever the job might be at the local church — whether it is Sunday school or Wednesday nights or whatever the activity, retreats, lock-ins, sleep overs, all the ways that people work with children — I’d like to take this moment to say thank you for all that you do.
You’re that unsung hero that’s constantly serving. I know you frequently wonder whether you are making any contribution at all, given the rowdiness of the group at times and their fidgety behavior and all. What with all the preparation you put into it, I’m sure you question its value.
But let me speak now as a dad and simply say a special word of thank you. I remember those Sunday mornings when our kids were young. I’m watching it again as our grandkids are going through that. I remember those Sunday mornings. I don’t know what it was, but Sunday morning was always the most chaotic moment of the entire week. School days would go smoothly but come Sunday morning, normal routine all went crazy:
“Kristen, why do you have a red sock on and a brown sock? Go put a matching pair of socks on. Richard, we just got you dressed. How in the world did you get dirty? You haven’t even been outside yet. I don’t care about Abby. How did you get so dirty? Boys, come here — we need to talk. What did you do last night? You sneaked into your sister’s room and placed all the dolls and stuffed animals so when she woke up this morning they scared her to death and she won’t come out from under her sheets. We need to sit down and talk about this.”
I don’t know what it was about Sunday morning, but frequently I got to the place where I was ready to kill three kids while getting them dressed to go hear about God’s love and mercy. And then once we got to church, after so much togetherness, I was thrilled that we all got separated for a little bit on Sunday morning. But I always felt sorry for the poor Sunday school teachers teaching my boys, particular using object lessons.
My favorite was one teacher who had a great idea, put a lot of time and energy into it, to teach the boys about the dangers of alcohol. So he brought a glass of alcohol and put a worm in it.
The children were absolutely fascinated, including my sons. And the teacher asked, “What lesson did you learn today?” And I remember one of ours responded, “Oh, what I learned today is I need to drink alcohol so I won’t get worms.”
The teacher bee-lined it to me to make sure that was not the intent of his Sunday school lesson that particular morning and told me that of my two boys, one would probably wind up on the mission field in the jungles of South America while the other was probably going to end up in Federal prison. He didn’t name which was which, but I had a pretty good idea who he was talking about.
All that to simply say, it may look like all your efforts aren’t accomplishing much, but I think it’s interesting now that when my kids talk about people who were influential in their lives, a long list of Sunday school teacher names are always mentioned. They will never forget their Sunday school teachers.
Thank you for what you do. And I thank you in the name of him who probably caused a lot of angst for all of his synagogue teachers as well. Keep up the good work.
John Upton is executive director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and its Virginia Baptist Mission Board and president of the Baptist World Alliance.