“It’s been a hard week.”
What does that mean?
This week, I’ve seen many posts from my children’s and family pastor friends that start out with “It was a hard day…” What constitutes “hard” may be different for each one but, nonetheless, a shared experience. What makes their “hard” day different from other hard days is that most of the time what is hard impacts the heart, not the body. It weighs on the soul, not the schedule. It pulls at their very core, not just their calendar.
On a weekly basis, people who work with children and youth, whether in ministry or in another field, face the realities of such things as neglect, abuse, and isolation. We see children who are broken before they even have a chance to grow. Spirits that are crushed before they even have a chance to soar.
We hear them repeat words they’ve heard about themselves and their self worth and our hearts break.
We see them lash out in anger and act in self-defense, mirroring the behaviors they see modeled for them by adults around them.
We hear them lament that they can’t see their parents, who are in jail, or are scared to see their parents, who are at home.
We hold them as they cry. We try to speak words of life and love to counteract the words of death and hate.
And sometimes, it’s not the big things.
Sometimes it’s the little girl terrified of not doing well on her standardized test, somehow not measuring up to some standard that has been imposed on her to receive funding for her school.
It’s the little boy who is heartbroken that he didn’t make the team or get to play or hit the ball. It’s the pre-teen who is convinced she’ll never be pretty enough or smart enough to fit in at middle school or the teenage guy who hides in video games because he’s not into sports and that’s all the other guys his age want to talk about.
And most of us, we have families of our own, children of our own who carry their own struggles. And our heart widens to hold not only their burdens, but also the ones of the children we serve. We even call them “our kids.”
Because it’s who we are.
It’s how God made us. It’s written in our hearts.
That is why when we see a victory, we shout it from the rooftops. That is why when a child says a prayer, takes a step, shows some growth, gives a hug, smiles for real, trusts a volunteer, comes to church, sings a song, chooses life…we rejoice.
We may seem overly emotional to some. Others may not understand why the little victories seem so big and important to us.
But it’s because those little victories mean that we are making a small difference for that child.
We are showing them the other side of life; the side of joy and peace and hope and love. The side of life that offers them a future and a hope. That gives each child meaning and purpose and a name.
We do that, every day, not just on Sunday. We do that with every prayer, every hug, every program we plan, every service we hold. It’s not just something we put off and clock out of at the end of the day. It is who we are.
So, if you hear a youth pastor, children’s minister, family pastor, or minister say that it’s been a hard day, pray for them. Pray for the children. Pray for the families. And if you, your children and/or your family have been ministered to by anything they’ve done, a program they sponsored, a lesson they taught, a story they shared, a resource they offered…anything at all….let them know. It will mean more to them than you could possibly imagine.
Fellow ministers, He knows. He holds all the burdens. He offers life. He knows what the hard days mean. He knows how to carry our pain. I’m praying for and with you.
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About this Blog
Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family and Seedbed