In children’s ministry - or in any ministry for that matter - perseverance and long suffering are part of the package. There is a hard labor of love that comes in ministry. There are people who will intentionally, or unintentionally, seek to hurt and harm. I need to suffer those insults.
Being in children’s ministry means that you are going to suffer the sad consequences of people not showing up to volunteer all the time. If you are in children’s ministry, or have been in children’s ministry for any length of time, you are going to realize the fickle nature of human beings. You are going to ask yourself the question, “Who does that? Who says they’re going to do something and then doesn’t do it and doesn’t tell you that they’re not going to do it?”. Sometimes we see the worst of people. We see their flakiness and we see their fragility in ways that cause us to suffer. My job is made harder because people don’t do what they say they are going to do. I can be angry, bitter and cynical about humans in general or I can take up my cross and suffer. It may take energy and effort to bring myself to a point of understanding how to work with faulty and frail people. But at the end of the day, if I am going to be good at long suffering, I must suffer long.
It’s hard. It’s hard to see the value of children's ministry when others don’t. It’s hard to have your budget cut again, never to be replaced. It’s hard to see your programs alienated and pushed to the side, not given the same level of platform or promotion. And sometimes it feels like we are suffering. But in order to be well versed at long suffering, I must first suffer long.
It is a worthy and high calling. It is part and parcel with serving in children's ministry to have the sermon go long again and to be pulling out my hair as volunteers look at me with a look of desperation. I’m suffering at that point and I can cave to anger and hostility or I can learn to take up my cross and adopt a heart of long suffering.
Long suffering is a beautiful thing. When others suffer long for me, what a joy it is. I have been the blessed recipient of other people suffering long as I try to pull myself together and try to make good on my word. People have suffered long with me and I’m grateful that they have.
My encouragement is that in order to be well adept at long suffering, we must first suffer long.