Sometimes, children's ministry workers feel underappreciated, and maybe in some situations, even like they're really not doing anything valuable for the kingdom. After all, when one is cleaning up cookie crumbs and spills or changing diapers or taking children to use the potty or finding themselves barely able to even tell a story for all the interruptions and disciplinary reminders needed, one may not feel like they're really accomplishing anything at all.
But they are.
Last night at church, I was leading our line of preschool girls to the bathroom -- one of those "is this really ministry??" moments -- when one little girl asked for the fifth time that evening if she could have a drink. I had told her and told her we'd get a drink when we went to the bathroom, so I was finally able to tell her yes, now she could have a drink.
As I lifted her up to the tall water fountain, my mind flashed back thirty years. To that exact same spot, that exact same water fountain, and a tall handsome elderly man who stood by it Sunday after Sunday. Elderly to my little girl eyes, anyway -- it's strange how the older you get, the older "elderly" becomes. He would have been the age my dad is now, and that is certainly NOT elderly at all.
Anyhow, this man posted himself every Sunday morning beside the water fountain for one reason only -- to be there for any little children who happened to pass by and needed a drink. The fountain was too tall for any child younger than 8 or 9 to be able to reach it on their own, and he wanted to be sure no little one went thirsty because they couldn't reach the fountain. He always referred to the passage in Mark 9 where Jesus, with a child in his arms, said whoever shall give someone a cup of water because they belong to me shall not lose their reward.
It's the little things sometimes that can make such an impact, and the gentleman would likely have been shocked if he were told that his little granddaughter would three decades later be blogging about his faithfulness in giving children drinks of water in Jesus' name. (Especially since blogging didn't exist in those days!)
The story reminds me of another fine lady who has earned my utmost respect and admiration: Laura Ingalls Wilder. You see, when Laura was visiting at the local elementary school in Mansfield, Missouri, years after achieving national fame, she saw a little girl who wanted a drink of water and couldn't reach the fountain. And the little old lady who is loved by millions all over the world decades after her death leaned over and lifted the girl up so she could get a drink. I love that. I love that despite the fame and fortune that had come to her, she maintained her humility. And again, it had an impact on the little girl, who is still telling people about it sixty years later.
So if ever there's a season in life where it feels you're doing nothing of value, think again. Even something so small as giving someone a drink of water may be having an impact far beyond what you could imagine. Maybe thirty or sixty years from now, someone will be telling others about you -- he's the man, or she's the woman, that gave me a drink. And that drink meant a lot to me. More than just the water that satiated my thirst for a few minutes, that drink told me that someone cared about me.
And after all, isn't that what ministry really is?