As a teenager, I served regularly in Children’s Ministry at my church. I also babysat regularly after school and on weekends. I had a lot of childcare experience. So when I went away to college and served in Children’s Ministry at a center for low-income families, I wasn’t prepared for what I’d experience.
When we’d pick the children up on the center’s bus, some of the children were unkempt—they were dirty and often smelled like they slept in a bed that they had wet. Some got on the bus eating non-traditional breakfast food like potato chips and fruit punch. Despite it all, they were so precious and teaching them about Jesus was such a blessing to me.
If you’re in ministry, you know what a joy ministry can be. Seeing a child ‘get it’ and take their next spiritual steps. Volunteers who are committed to the purpose God has called them to. Hearing stories of real life change. These are the things that confirm that we’re in the right place, doing what God created us to do. Feeling like we’re making an impact on the Kingdom is a very fulfilling calling.
If you’re in ministry, you also know that ministry is hard—physically, emotionally, spiritually. There are days we wonder what it’s all for, if what we’re doing really matters, and if we’ll ever have all of the resources (budget, facility, volunteers, etc.) that we need to do effective ministry.
Recently, I was reminded that kids and families in my ministry are really hurting. Sometimes I forget the burdens that families carry into my church and that smiles can often hide deep pain. My heart was so broken one Sunday that I came home and cried until I had a headache.
Think about the children in your ministry or community. Some split their time between two homes. Some are being cared for by grandparents dealing with health or financial challenges. Families are dealing with terminally ill family members. Some are simply wondering where their next meal will come from.
I admit that I am often consumed with details of ministry that are important—things like scheduling volunteers, editing curriculum, purchasing supplies, planning events and leading my team. Sometimes I’m too consumed by these things. But I was reminded that ministry is also doing soul care for our families, listening to the details of their lives, and reminding them of the hope we have in Jesus.
I used to think of these more heartbreaking moments as a downside of ministry, but the longer I’ve been in ministry, the more my perspective has changed. This is the ministry I was called to. This is kingdom impact.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
If no one has told you recently, what you’re doing matters tremendously.
This article originally appeared here.