There was a girl in my group who we’ll call “Kellie.” She’s a sweet girl, very well-behaved. She’s kind of on the quiet side, but she liked to talk to me about her family and friends and things, and she’d ask me lots of questions. Some were personal questions, like about my own family and things, and some were more general questions that little kids so often ask, like about how the world works. But the questions she would ask most were about God. She said she really enjoyed our chapel sessions because she liked to learn about Jesus. I’d tell her stories and teach her lessons from the Bible.
“When you have faith in God, you don’t need to worry about things,” I told her. “God takes care of all our needs.”
As I said those words, I thought,“Wow. I should really listen more to my own advice.” I tend to worry a lot about things I really don’t need to worry about at all. So often when I’m teaching the kids something I realize it would do me well to pay more attention to my own teachings.
I found out that Kellie’s parents are divorced. Kids whose parents are divorced have a much tougher time. They’re so much more likely to fall into bad habits as they get older.
“I have some friends, but not many,” she said. “But I’m happy. Jesus is my friend, and I know he is always with me.”
She said she wished she could go to church, but that her mom said she doesn’t have time to take her. (The usual excuse.) She said she wanted to read the Bible, but she didn’t have one, and that she had asked her mom for a Bible for her birthday.
“That’s nice,” I thought. “I hope she gets it.” But then I thought, “Maybe I should get her that Bible…?
“Nah, that’s a weird idea…
but…well…maybe I should?”
Whenever I think of something nice to do for someone, I’m usually pretty hesitant to carry it out. I’ve come to realize it’s a pride thing. I’m so afraid of putting myself in a position where there’s even a remote possibility I might look bad if things don’t work out the way I intended, that I often avoid doing things I feel are right.
I considered the reasons why I shouldn’t get her that Bible:
“What if it looks weird for a summer leader to give a Bible to a kid? Maybe it’s not even important for me to get her a Bible. Maybe she’d get lots of Bibles. Maybe she wouldn’t even read it. Maybe I’d be wasting my money.”
And then I considered the reasons why I should get her that Bible:
“What if she doesn’t get a Bible for her birthday? What if getting her a Bible convinces her mom to take her to church? What if getting her this Bible right now is the difference between her going through middle school and high school leading a life close to Christ versus going astray and getting involved in the wrong things? What if God wants to use me as a blessing?”
The possibility alone was enough to make me do it.
Sure, it’s possible that even with the Bible, she could end up getting involved in the wrong things anyway. But the future is so unpredictable. Only God knows what will happen tomorrow. We can choose to worry about “what if’s” or we can simply do things with righteous intentions and trust that God has everything under control.
I asked my boss if he thought it was a good idea I get her a Bible, and he agreed. So many people don’t like to read the Bible, and many more do so only grudgingly. Here was a kid who actually wanted to read it, so I felt it was important to make sure she got one. So I went out and bought her a nice kids Bible, along with a bookmark I thought she’d like that had a Bible verse and pictures of flowers on it.
(They make some awesome kids Bibles these days. I wish I had had a Bible like that when I was a kid.)
As I drove to work the next day I thought about how I would give it to her. I felt awkward. I’m no good at these kinds of situations. Even though I had already bought the Bible, somewhere in the back of my mind doubt still crept in, and I thought,“Should I really go through with this?” I have a tendency to second guess myself, even when doing something I know is right. There was really no reason why I shouldn’t have given her the Bible, but sometimes I’m overly hesitant.
I walked into work and right away Kellie came up to me and started talking. She said that she had borrowed a friend’s Bible and read the story of Noah. We talked for a while about it, and about what she had learned.
As we talked, a verse popped into my mind:
“The wicked run when no one is chasing them, but the righteous are as bold as lions.”
“That’s me,” I thought, “Running even though no one is chasing me. I’m so full of pride. The only thing that keeps me from being the person I want to be is myself.”
We finished talking about the story, and for a moment she looked up at me curiously in that way little kids do.
“This is the right thing to do,” I thought, finally deciding to put aside my inhibitions. “I’m tired of being a slave to pride. No more. This has gone on for far too long.”
“I wanted to give you this,” I said, handing her the Bible. She was surprised. “I hope you’ll read it and learn more about God.” She nodded, and thanked me quietly.
The whole day she looked at it every chance she got, showing it to all her friends. Later, my coworker came up to me. “I’m really glad you got her that Bible,” she said. “I wanted to get her one, but I couldn’t afford it.”
On my last day of work for the summer, as I was leaving, Kellie came up to me.
“This is for you,” she said, handing me a gift bag. She knew I was leaving for Cambodia, and she got me some snacks for the trip, along with a t-shirt, and a card.
“Aw, that’s so sweet. You didn’t have to.”
She thanked me again for the Bible, and said she would read it every day. We said our goodbyes.
“Hope to see you next year!”
It’s funny how you think you’re doing something nice for someone – not expecting anything in return, just out of the goodness that is Christ – when in actuality, God is doing something nice for you, and you receive double the blessings. The gifts Kellie gave me were nice, but by far the best was to see her learn about Jesus, find comfort and confidence in him, and the hope that she will continue that relationship as she grows up. I’m really glad I got to be a part of that.
You might think that after working with kids all day I’d be relieved to go home and get away from them. But actually, I miss those kids when they’re not around.
As Christians, we’re supposed to place other people’s needs before our own. For many of us this is a difficult thing to do, and I’m certainly no exception. But when I’m working with kids, I’m at my best. Instead of selfishly worrying about my own things like I so often do, I’m focused on looking out for the kids.
Working with kids is great. I’d do it for free if I had to. (Don’t tell my bosses! 😉 ) Of course everyone needs money, but the real pay comes in the form of hoping that God will use us to be a blessing in the lives of the kids, and watching them learn and grow into stronger individuals. That is priceless.