I am writing this article from a Best Western hotel room in a county seat town in southern Oklahoma. One of our fine churches has given me the honor of preaching for them every night this week, and I thank God for the opportunity. This good pastor taught me a powerful lesson last night.
After a long day of travel and ministry, he and I made our way to a local fast food establishment to enjoy dinner and conversation. We needed to talk about the condition of the church and how the week might unfold.
We ordered our food; he waved to a group of his people across the room while filling our cups at the soda fountain, and we made our way to a quiet booth. Just as we began our conversation, a whole gaggle of girls surrounded us.
These were girls from the church. They ranged from age 5 to 15 and they were giggling, goofing around and talking nearly nonstop about nothing in particular. They squeezed into our booth and pulled up a few chairs nearby.
Honestly, my first thought was that they should leave us alone to have our important conversation. That was not this fine pastor’s instinct. He welcomed these children to his table. He introduced them to me, calling each one by name.
He loved them, and they were very at ease with their pastor. For the next 10 to 15 minutes, while we ate our hamburgers, he was far more focused on the children than he was on me.
In short, this pastor acted a lot like Jesus. I had more the attitude of a dim-witted disciple.
“Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’” (Matt. 19:13-14).
To follow Jesus is to know the value of children.
As summer approaches, let’s be mindful of the high value of children and teenagers. Summer camps, Vacation Bible School and other special ministries bring great opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus with these tender hearts.
If you are too busy to give a child your time, you are too busy! If you deem yourself too important to bless a teenager with your full attention, you must consider yourself more important than Jesus Himself! Time spent serving in Vacation Bible School or summer camp is an investment that will pay rich eternal dividends.
I hope that in the future I will always have enough Kingdom sense to welcome the children to my table.