This chapter turns once again to the conversation between Jesus and Peter on the shore as they shared breakfast following Christ’s resurrection:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” [John 21:15-17]
Who’s Ministry Is It Anyway?
When Christ asked Peter three times whether or not he loved him, Peter answered yes each time. In response, to the third yes, Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep.” In that reply, we find the unspoken mission statement of Children’s Ministry. Indeed, that verse says it all when it comes to Children’s Ministry. In all that we do in Children’s Ministry, it is critical that we remember that it is God’s sheep that we are feeding and not our own. Our role to feed Christ’s sheep, but we must never lose sight of the fact they still belong to him.
“The work that you have to do for Jesus, brethren and sisters, is in no sense for yourselves. Your classes are not your children, but Christ’s… Let these lambs turn out what they may, the glory is to be to the Master and not to the servant; and the whole time spent, and labour given, and energy put forth, is every particle of it to redound to His praise whose these lambs are.”
When we work with kids in Children’s Ministry, or in anything we do, we should always remember that we are doing it for the glory of God. What a victory we allow Satan when we begin to think that Children’s Ministry is about programs, about events, about props, or even about the children. The focus must be on God. In Children’s Ministry, you are not baby-sitting the child of a couple just so they can go to “big church” and learn about Jesus. You have been charged with shepherding Jesus’ children, and you must never forget it!
Why Children’s Ministry
Children’s Ministry provides an opportunity to serve those whom the Lord hold dearest – the children. We should be honored that Jesus chose us to shepherd his children. Spurgeon explains:
“Yet while this is a self-denying occupation, it is sweetly honourable, too, and we may attend to it feeling that it is one of the noblest forms of service. Jesus says, ‘My lambs: My sheep.’ Think of them, and wonder that Jesus should commit them to us.”
As a Children’s Ministry worker, do you ever wonder why it is that God chose you for that task? Referring back to the verses from John, Spurgeon explains that, even though Peter may have felt rejected by being asked three times whether or not he loved the Lord, Jesus actually demonstrated his trust in Peter that morning. Spurgeon expounds on the implication of Jesus’ charge to Peter. He explains that by his actions, Jesus was saying:
“I have such confidence in you, I so wholly rely on your integrity as being a sincere lover of Me, that I make you a shepherd to My sheep. These are all I have on earth, I gave everything for them, even My life; and now, Simon, son of Jonas, take care of them for Me.”
In choosing us to work with his children and shepherd his sheep in Children’s Ministry, Jesus has entrusted us with something very special to him. We must ensure that we never do anything to violate that trust.
To those in Children’s Ministry who feel overworked or underappreciated, Spurgeon offers the following observation:
“When the Lord Jesus loves a man very much, He gives him much to do or much to suffer.”
So, how and why do we endure? The answer to both “how” and “why” is the same. We endure because of love (love of Christ and love for kids) and we endure for love (because it is an expression of love and only through exercising our love does it grow).
If a person serving in Children’s Ministry is not serving out of love, he has no business being there in the first place. Spurgeon touches on the joy to be found in serving when it is done out of love:
“So let us abide in this blessed service for Christ that it may be the delight of love, the very ocean in which love shall swim, the sunlight in which it shall bask. The recreation of a loving soul is work for Jesus Christ; and amongst the highest and most delicious forms of this heavenly recreation is the feeding of young Christians endeavouring to build them up in knowledge and understanding, that they may become strong in the Lord.”
Spurgeon also explains that it is only by the exercise of love that it is strengthened and increased. Children’s Ministry provides an opportunity to give your love away and thereby increase it:
“Next, as an inflowing of love. “Feed My lambs,” for if you love Christ a little when you begin to do good, you will soon love Him more. Love grows by active exercise, It is like the blacksmith’s arm, which increases its strength by wielding the hammer. Love loves till it loves more, and it loves more till it loves more; and it still loves more till it loves most of all, and then it is not satisfied, but aspires after enlargement of heart that it may copy yet more fully the perfect model of love in Christ Jesus, the Saviour.”
Love is central to endurance in Children’s Ministry. There will be times of burnout and times that test our patience, but through love for God and love for those children, we can endure to the end.
OK, I started to write my personal observations based on the quote “When the Lord Jesus loves a man very much, He gives him much to do or much to suffer.” However, when I hit two pages, I decided it should be a separate post. Look for it next Tuesday. My working title is “Do I Have the Time to Care for God’s Children?” That may change!
Links to Complete Text
If you’re interested in reading the complete text of “Come Ye Children,” it can be found on at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc.htm
The complete text of Chapter Seven can be found at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc07.htm
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