Yesterday my eleven-year old daughter asked to help with some cookies I was in a rush to make. Whew! What a relief to have a helper speed the process along. Soon, another one of my children asked to help and, then, even the youngest. “Mama, can ME help?” My mind flashed back to days when I had three and four little ones begging to help. We all know how that works in the kitchen! Little helpers equal bigger messes to clean up. Ingredients are measured incorrectly or sometimes left out completely. Mom has to redo lots. It can be quite complicated and honestly HARD to have a little helper or multiple little helpers underfoot in the kitchen.
When my first child was small and liked to hang out in the kitchen with me, my husband encouraged it. He would always say, “In a few years, you will be amazed at how much she really does help.” He was patient with the extra mess and the very late meals so we kept it up. (But not EVERY day!) It became a little more difficult as I had more children to include in my tiny kitchen, but along the way they have all learned to do something that I actually consider helpful. My oldest can almost make a meal all by herself while the youngest is content to stir the juice mix or run the hand mixer. Even though we still have messes, my husband’s words are beginning to ring true. My girls are learning how to run their own kitchens one day, and we have lots of fun laughing and talking together in the meantime.
The same principles that work in my kitchen work in the ministry. Just like it is quicker and easier to throw a meal together without little ones underfoot, it is, at first, much more convenient to run certain programs all myself. For instance, it is quicker and easier to throw my lesson together and go teach the children’s class the way I want to. I made that mistake at first. Then, I realized that I needed to train helpers, but I didn’t do that just right either. I took a children’s lesson, gave it to a faithful young lady, and said, “Here, you can teach this on Sunday.” I shouldn’t have been surprised when she got up the following Sunday morning and READ the story to the children, no illustrations, no passion in her voice, NOTHING! I couldn’t simply throw her a lesson and expect her to succeed any more than I could throw a recipe to my young children and say, “Here make this.” Proper training little by little is vital. I later learned to give people just little segments of the class such as teaching a song or a memory verse and seeing how they handled that. First, however, I had to sit down and explain to them how to lead these aspects of the class by modeling and letting them practice. Later, they might progress to teaching a whole lesson, but only after we sat down and planned out the lesson together. I even had one young lady practice teaching a lesson to my children before Sunday morning. This training process makes a lot more work at the beginning, but it is vital especially in an area where people have not seen an effective children’s ministry.
I would like to share a few lessons that I have learned the hard way in hopes that wherever you are serving the Lord today, you will pull someone alongside of you to help so that they may grow and learn with you.
- Let people help. Don’t think you can do it all on your own! Letting them help will help YOU in the long run, but more importantly it will help THEM! Giving people a place to serve encourages them to be more faithful, burdens them for the work of the Lord, helps them grow in their spiritual walk, and builds character as they strive to serve others. They need to help as much or more than you need a helper!
- Don’t be afraid to ASK for help. I HATE asking for help. I want people to see a need and just volunteer, but it doesn’t always happen. I will get frustrated sometimes that no one helps, but sometimes they have willing hearts and don’t know WHAT needs to be done. Start with small steps. Don’t ask someone to commit to a permanent position such as keeping the nursery on a regular basis. Ask them to try one time with someone who already knows what they are doing first.
- Don’t do everything alone. When I need to go visit someone (unless it is to deal with a private, personal matter) I always take someone with me. She helps me find the homes I can’t find and is motivated to make visits herself. When I make purchases for an upcoming event, it’s easy to just run out the door and squeeze it in as time permits. Taking the time to call and invite someone to go with me as her schedule permits, however, makes that persn feel included and important. She is more likely to come to the event and push others to come and maybe in the future plan an event on her own.
- There is more work, but more reward in including others. I learned this from watching a teammate. She would never plan even the simplest of young ladies meetings without first meeting with a few young ladies who would run the meeting. They planned out songs, games, and the lesson together. They even prepared the snacks together. When it was time for the meeting, my teammate sat back and let the other ladies run the show. At first I thought my friend was overboard, planning every last detail out with someone else before the meeting. Couldn’t we just host a meeting and be done with it? I began to see how the young ladies were gaining confidence and learning to conduct meetings on their own. They were also building lasting friendships and growing together with my teammate and each other as they spent planning time together.
- Let your passion and zeal for the Lord be the motivating drive in all you do. Then your “helpers” who are alongside you constantly learning to serve with you will have the same burden. When young ladies from my church serve the Lord alongside of me, I hope my excitement for the things of the Lord will also rub off on them. Their desire to pass out tracts everywhere they go, to love on others, to teach God’s Word, to continually think of and talk of things of an eternal value will only grow if those things are my desires.
Whether you are a “goer” on the mission field today or a “sender” doing everything in her power to reach those at home and abroad, I encourage you to find someone to “help” you in your service to Him today! Whether you teach someone to clean the church for Jesus or work in the children’s ministry, that person can learn from YOU to do ALL to the glory of the Lord