I love this time of year. Summer break is the jewel in the crown of teachers and students alike. It is the trophy for a steady pace run throughout the school year. Kids can easily go from early risers and diligent workers to disheveled free-loaders, eating through an entire week's worth of groceries like locusts in a fort night! Maybe that's just my 14 year old. Not sure.
Anyway, this time of year also brings the fun of summer camps and Vacation Bible School. I've been a part of both of those things in one capacity or another my entire life. I have lots of wisdom ya'll. Want to know what I've learned? Buckle up. It's about to get real.
1. Kids have the capacity to learn more than just that handful of Bible stories about Jonah, David and Goliath, and Noah's ark. They can go deeper on age appropriate levels. So take them there.
2. Snack time is important. Skimp out on the goldfish rations and you'll have a riot. Also don't buy the generic Oreos cause they WILL notice.
3. There's never enough help.
4. Get yourself some air freshener and learn to deal with the smell of burned monkey hair and old socks. That's the smell that defines childhood.
5. Kids deserve to be treated like the first class citizens of the Kingdom that they are. Jesus called a timeout from his regular schedule to hang out with them and love on them. He probably played a mean game of tag. Think about it; could you outrun the man who died, ran to hell to snatch the keys, and made it back for breakfast on the third day? Nope. Didn't think so. That death was for them too and they are just as important as anyone else. Treat them differently and you'll answer to their Father.
6. Weird music that talks about Hamster Dances and Chainsaw Cranks... yeah, it doesn't make sense... just move on.
7. Lots of kids still think God just hangs out on a cloud all day listening to organ music and smiting people all day for doing bad stuff. There's this whole other side to God guys! He made happiness and joy and fun! If he came up with the idea, chances are He's pretty good at it too. Are we modeling this side or the smiting side all the time? Who are you to smite? Stop smiting. It's just not cool.
8. Most people (especially kids) are Kinetic learners... they learn by doing. If you want a lesson to remember, throw in a prop to make it stick. Or better yet, make it something messy. The messier the better. And remember, never lick a brown spot in camp or VBS. It might be chocolate but it's just too risky.
9. Where is your church's HAZMAT suit and fire extinguisher? You should know that. Better yet, just get your own. Especially if you work with the boys.
10. This one's important. And it isn't just regarding children/students. People will sing songs they don't understand. They will answer questions with the right answers without having a clue what they just said. They will close their eyes during prayer and lift their hands during worship only to leave that day with no greater knowledge or understanding than they arrived with. They will engage with you in a classroom, in the car, at work, and in your home. You are leading them to the throne and they follow... some of them blindly. What a responsibility. Are your footsteps a straight line to the Father? How will you make those moments count? Cultivate a relationship and then ask the hard questions. Cultivate a relationship and give the hard answers. Don't let them leave without being impacted by a life of grace.
11. Serving Jesus is hard work. But is as one first grader told me yesterday, "At least you get to be baptized in a heated pool and have cake afterward. You don't have to wear sandals to play basketball like Jesus".
Amanda Williams is a forty-year old wife and mother of two who can still swing her pony tail and display just a tad of sass. She is also a Jesus loving girl who realizes she is nothing without the One who saved her. Amanda has two degrees specializing in serving students with special needs and is currently working in the field of Leadership Development. She is a Christian author, speaker, blogger, and publisher who loves serving beside her husband at her local place of worship, First Baptist Church of Ocala.