“What is a minister?” Zach* asked.
It was Wednesday afternoon and seven-year-old Zach was one of about 12 kids in attendance at Kids for Christ (KFC). This program meets weekly after school and includes a variety of activities including Bible Buddies. The KFC’ers get off the school bus at the church and their parents come for them at 7:00 pm.
That afternoon I was helping Cozette, the Bible Buddies teacher; we were focusing on Isaiah 66:13 and talking about mothers. (It was the Wednesday before Mother’s Day.) Both kids and leaders shared stories and talked about what we had learned from our moms. I showed them a picture of my mother and explained that she taught me a lot about ministry.
“When I was a little girl,” I told the kids, “My mother often cooked twice as much supper as we needed so that we could share a meal with another family. She also visited people, wrote notes, taught Sunday school, and did lots of other things that showed me how to be a minister.”
That’s when Zach’s hand shot up. “What is a minister?” he asked.
“Great question,” I told him. I wanted to answer accurately: the word itself could relate to positions outside a church. “A minister is someone who takes care of people and spends time with them. Like me, I work here at the church and I am the Minister with Youth and Children. So, I spend time with you guys and help take care of you.”
“And I’m a minister too,” Cozette, said. “I visit people in group homes and I help them with things they need.”
“Oh!” Zach said, nodding. “Like a teacher.”
Wow. What a response. See, Zach—a loveable and bright little guy who is eager to learn—is not the quietest fella you will ever meet. My guess is he does his share of squirming, speaking out of turn, and just generally pushing the limits of acceptable classroom behavior. And yet, the description of a minister, made him think of teachers.
Teachers. Teachers who are overworked, underpaid, and up to their lanyards in standardized tests. Teachers who stay afterschool for special events and come in early for conferences with parents or students. Teachers who spend their own time and money because they love what they do and they want to do it well. Teachers who take time to minister to a fidgety little boy who sometimes forgets the rules.
“Yes,” I told Zach. “A minister is like a teacher.”
*Name changed for privacy.
Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.
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