Lessons Learned in the Church Nursery

Originally posted on Miss P’s Ponderings on July 26, 2012

     First, let me confess.  Working in the nursery is not my calling.  Now, there was a time, around 1980, when I couldn’t wait to be “old enough” to be added to the nursery rotation list.  Finally, when I entered 7th grade, Terry & Wanda, who were coordinating the nursery ministry at the time, added my name and I spent one Sunday each month serving in the nursery.  I loved it. Yes, when I was a teenager, it was a way for me to serve.  Let’s face it, when you’re a teenager, you are too young to fill most positions in the church, so this was my avenue of service.

     As I continued to age, I earned an elementary degree, and I realized that my calling was more towards school aged children.  During college and after, I filled many positions in children’s ministry at our church.  I taught Sunday School classes during summers.  I led children’s worship.  I taught VBS classes.  I learned to work with puppets.  I even served as the children’s minister for a while, until I realized that career ministry wasn’t my calling either.  In the midst of my journey, I work with kids a lot.  I love kids.  I love little kids.  I love babies. 

BUT…

     If you put me in a room with a small group of children who don’t really know how to talk with me yet…it’s a challenge.  So, when the window was opened and another person (thank you, Sherry Getz) volunteered to serve in the ministry.  I quickly gave my rotation slot away.  I still work with kids.  On Wednesdays during the school year, you can hear me leading songs and watch evidence of my presence as Mr. Tony interacts with “Jessie Rae”, “Officer Max”, “Princess Violet” (better known as Queenie), and my latest character…”Priscilla Elizabeth”. 

     Yes, I work with kids in ministry…I teach kids in my career…I interact with kids through Big Brothers & Big Sisters.  Yet, when it comes to the nursery, it’s a challenge.

     This past Sunday, my sister was supposed to serve, but she wasn’t able to make it.  So, I took her spot.  [Yes, I sub…but I don’t want to be a “real” nursery worker. Ha]    As the hour of Sunday School went by, I observed and pondered a lot…in between making noises, voices, and singing songs.  I thought this week I’d share those lessons…Lessons from the 7 in Sunday School Nursery.

Lesson 1—As I entered, a lovely little blonde was already present and having a good ole time with the toys.  Her face shined a brilliant smile.  She interacted with both Sherry and me though not in understandable dialogue.  What lesson did I learn from her?  Be content.  Would she rather have been with her mother or father?  Yep.  Would she rather have been playing with her two older brothers?  Of course.  Yet, at the age of 23 months, she was already learning to be content with what and where she was.  Yet, I learned another lesson.  Long for your father.  You see, as Sunday School came to a close, she caught a glimpse of her dad outside the door.  She heard her dad talking with Pastor Mike.  With that evidence taken, there was no where she would rather be than in her father’s arms.  So, after seeing his face and hearing his voice, she began to cry for him.  This little girl who is rarely seen unhappy or in tears was overwhelmed with a longing to be with her father. 

Lesson #2–The next little one to enter was a little boy.  A little boy who loves music but loves his parents more.  In fact, his father was bringing him to the nursery.  As they approached the door, the boy’s tears began to flow.  This quiet content little boy found his voice and lost his contentment.  He didn’t want anything to take him away from his daddy.  Maintaining a calm disposition, his father told him he’d be fine and pointed out his diaper needed to be changed.  As his dad took care of the diaper needs, the little boy quieted.  Peace had been restored.  He listened to the voice of his father and calm returned.  Then, his next request was pointing up…up to the goldfish crackers.  You see, he knew where the snacks are.  He knew that with a raised hand and a questioning grunt, he’d get a snack.  His father noted that goldfish crackers may ruin his lunch, but if it helped him make it through the separation and feel comfortable with his surroundings, then goldfish crackers were fine.  So, the little boy and little girl sat down together and enjoyed a few goldfish crackers…and then a few more.

Lesson #3–The next little one to join us was a tall little girl…a little girl with a great need for assurance and joy.  In her almost two years, she’s dealt with more hardship than I probably have in 42 years.  Tears flowed as her foster mom brought her in.  Offering to hold her wasn’t accepted.  She simply cried.  She cried and stayed by herself until she had perceived that her mom had left her in a safe place and that Sherry and I were “okay”.  By the end of our hour together, she was smiling and enjoying her time.  But the sadness she exuded at the beginning was enough to melt even Grinch’s heart.

Lesson #4–A small little girl was the last to join us for the hour.  She too has had things transpire already in her life that I would have no idea about.  She came in smiling.  She came in playing with others.  She had a joy that surpassed understanding.  Yet, the lesson I learned from her didn’t come until around 9:45.  You see her foster mom came to get her after Sunday School to take her to the worship service.  As the mom’s face was seen above the door, this tiny one ran to the door with such glee and excitement.  Her foster family provided her with love and security, and the joy she expressed as her mom picked her up almost brought me to tears.

Lesson #5–This lesson came from Sherry Getz.  You see I often play the “single without children” card when I sub in the nursery.  I think every Sunday I’ve worked in the recent past I’ve been able to allow my “co-worker” to deal with the changing table.  You see, odors aren’t my thing.  As we sat there, Sherry shared that she smelled evidence of a need for a change.  Where I would’ve been gagging, she served willingly and joyfully.  Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think she wakes up in the morning longing to change a diaper, but she’s willing to serve in whatever way is needed.

Lesson #6–This lesson came from myself.  What did I teach myself?  Well, it was merely a reminder.  I need to get over myself.  It’s not about me.  It’s about what needs to be done for His glory.  If it’s changing diapers, change them.  If it’s singing in the choir, sing.  If it’s taking out the trash, take it out.  No, I don’t need to say “yes” to every need…God has lots of people in our church who can serve.  Yet, when there’s a need that’s not being filled, then I need to be willing to fill it.  Even if it’s merely “subbing” until someone else comes along.

Lesson #7–Who else was there?  Well, there were only 4 toddlers and 2 adults.  The only other One present was God Himself.  You see, He could be seen in the beautiful blessings I interacted with that day.  His Hands served by changing diapers through Sherry’s willingness.  He’s always there. He knows my heart.  So, He knows if I’m doing something willingly or begrudgingly, so I need to check myself.

Now, any good teacher reviews the objectives at the end of the lesson…

  • Be content with where you are and what you’re doing, but never be so content that you don’t long to be with your Father.
  • Hold tightly to your Father’s hand, and listen to His Voice to calm you when you’re afraid or worried.  Trust that your Father wants you to be at peace and get through your trials.
  • Long to be with the One who brings you comfort and peace.  Know He won’t leave you where He isn’t present.
  • Possess a joy that those who don’t know Christ won’t understand.  And always be prepared to explain the hope that you have.
  • Serve with a willing heart, regardless of the task.
  • Be available to go outside your comfort zone to work where God is working.
  • Do all things for the glory of the God of heaven and earth.

Yes, always be a student…you can learn lessons anywhere…even in the church nursery.

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