September 18, 2018

Mustard Stains

One of the hats that I get to wear here at The Ridge is that of Family Pastor. It’s a role I enjoy because a large part of my ministry experiences have been with children, teenagers, and families.  

In high school and in college I interned in the Children’s Ministry at my church. They were gracious to let me do it because, in retrospect, I had no idea what I was doing. I loved those summers. One year, I was a counselor for our preschool camp, tasked with guiding around a group of small ones. We were sitting in the snack block dipping our pretzels into mustard (the only real way to eat soft pretzels) when it happened. I watched as a little kid took their mustardy fingers and wiped them on my shorts. All over my shorts. I felt like I was watching this unfold in slow motion. All I could think in my head was “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”

Thankfully, not every moment involved children generously applying condiments to my clothing. One of the good moments was the summer we restarted the Big Brother/Big Sister program. I had gone through that program as a kid and it meant a lot to me that someone older than me would take the time to get to know me and what I was going through. I was excited to get the chance to do that for a group of kids. We got together every week that summer, playing games, having fun, and possibly getting into more trouble than I, as a borderline-adult, should have allowed us to get into. 

We also talked about big things like faith and God – and about their lives and the stuff they were going through. I was blown away that they would talk about this stuff with me…that they would share their lives and ask my opinion and advice. It was such an incredible privilege to be trusted by those kids. I remember feeling so honored that they cared about what I thought and so challenged to be someone worthy of the faith they put in me. I went into that summer with the goal of helping these guys grow closer to God while, without realizing it, God would help me grow closer to Him through those guys.

That experience isn’t unique to me either. I hear stories like that over and over again from people who volunteer their time investing in the lives of kids. Our time is valuable and we can be very protective of it. But the question we should be asking is, how do we invest our time in things that are meaningful…in things that will outlast us? That’s why serving with children and students is so meaningful: you have the chance to make a forever impact in someone else’s life…in the next generation. The crazy part is that they’re not the only ones who benefit from our investment - we benefit too - because God has something to do, not just through you, but in you as well. (Just stay away from the mustard…)

Josh Crum