For the first time since becoming a family of seven back in May, we took family pictures last month. You can see those, as well as some individual shots, by clicking HERE.
Churches often recognize a sermon that is preached, a meal that is served, a baptism that is performed, a Bible study that is led and other visible ministries. What often goes overlooked, though, is the ministry that so many faithful servants have with children, particularly preschool children. Children that age obviously don’t think to thank their teachers and leaders. Most of the church never knows what goes on in the nursery and preschool room – how thankless the ministry can be, how exhausting it is, how few people volunteer to help, and how much time leaders spend preparing while knowing that most of the kids will pay little attention to the teacher’s efforts.
I believe, though, that volunteers who work with our children and youth are the unsung heroes of the church. They are in the basement (both literally in our church building and figuratively), but their ministry is of a critically high calling. Praise God for them! They are more superheroes than I as a pastor will ever be.
I am particularly thankful for Marsha and Katie – the two women who are with our church’s preschoolers every single Sunday morning during Family Groups, at least one Sunday morning each month during worship, every Wednesday evening during adult prayer meeting and Bible study, and even many Sunday evenings during Life on Mission. In fact, not only do they do this as a ministry for the church, but they are also mothers to preschoolers.
My wife, Marsha, is a stay-at-home mother. That means she’s used to all this, right? “It should be easy for her to spend most of her church ministry time with her two youngest children and other children their age.”
Sadly, I’ve heard comments like that before. I can’t recall a time, though, when I’ve heard people thanking my wife for serving the preschoolers or serving in the nursery. Now, in fairness, I trust there are people who do thank her, as we have the privilege of being part of an amazing church family that is very gracious and loving. Because I don’t hear appreciation for those serving “in the basement,” though, I’m honestly afraid to ask my wife if she feels appreciated. I know I appreciate her and tell her that, but I don’t tell her nearly enough. Do I thank her each time she leaves the edifying adult conversations in the foyer or fellowship hall in order to go downstairs with sometimes unruly children? No. Instead, I take her for granted.
I fear there are many more who take her and the other unsung heroes in our church for granted, too. This is probably the case in most churches. Next time you drop your kids off in the nursery, in a Sunday School room, or in the youth area, be sure to thank the leader(s). Then, when you go to pick up your children, be sure to thank the leader(s) again. Write them notes of encouragement. Make sure they realize how much you appreciate their sacrifice.
Of course, there are many thankless ministries in our church and in every church. We as Christians need to do a better job of showing our appreciation and encouraging those who serve the Lord by serving His church. “God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:24b-26).
While I and many like me do not show our appreciation like we should, God will reward these faithful servants for their sacrifice and faithfulness. Let’s do better, though. Let’s be thankful and show our appreciation. Not sure if you’ve shown enough appreciation? Then show some more. Let’s err on the side of being abundantly appreciative, not secretly thankful.
Today is Marsha’s birthday! As she gets her beauty sleep (it’s 12:20 a.m. here), I want to tell the world how much I love and appreciate my amazing woman. She’s a SUPER wife, a SUPER mom and a SUPER person. And, when I say “super,” I mean SUPERHERO-like. If she is apart from our family for just one day, we do well to just survive. Marsha keeps us strong and keeps us together, and I praise God for her!
Over the past couple weeks, our sleep has been anything but regular. In fact, we haven’t had a decent night of sleep for nearly a month. Yet, Marsha’s love, patience, compassion and kindness are beyond incredible. Lately, I find myself feeling like we’re barely surviving, and Marsha can look at our lives and say, “Things are going really well.” While I’m sometimes not sure what she sees that I don’t, I find great encouragement and joy in my wife’s attitude and outlook. Furthermore, I’m reminded of how much we have to be thankful for and how much God’s goodness is evident in our lives. Praise the Lord for my amazing wife!
Marsha, happy birthday! I hope you have a great day and realize how much you are loved and appreciated by our children and me!