Nursery duty can be a test of faith, especially for those who have never loved to babysit and would rather interact with adults. But as we ask the Lord to soften our heart in this area, we have an opportunity to experience some of the blessings that come from interacting with these precious little ones.
Perhaps men in particular struggle with serving in the nursery. In Christian culture especially, interacting with children seems naturally to fall to women while men focus on teaching and preaching.
However, in his article for The Gospel Coalition, “Brothers, Serve in the Nursery,” Samuel Emadi discusses what he learned from serving in the nursery on Sunday mornings and how serving these little ones can be a humbling experience that God uses to teach us about Him.
Emadi explains that he began sitting in on his son’s Sunday School class, thinking he was just going to help his son adjust and then he would leave to be with the adults. However, things didn’t quite go as planned, as they often don’t when God is trying to teach us something.
“I entered the situation assuming I was simply helping my son make some adjustments in his life. It turns out God was helping me make some adjustments in mine.”
Emadi goes on to explain that many men, especially those called to pastoral ministry, think that the best way for God to use them in the church is to allow them to preach, teach Sunday School, or to be involved in some more obvious, tangible aspect of ministry.
Of course, it is certain that teaching and preaching are essential parts of the church service and ministry, but men (and Christians in general) must be careful not to think of ministry as a hierarchy.
Emadi says we often tend to think of church ministry like a corporate office where we start in an entry-level position (a nursery volunteer) and work up to a “better” position (a pastor, teacher).
This view, however, is contrary to the example Jesus set.
In fact, Emadi states, “Serving small children in nursery might just be the place to cultivate the very character qualities Christ demands of those who would lead his church.”
One of the greatest examples we have of humble service is on the night before Jesus was crucified when he washed the feet of his disciples and said to them, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14).
In a revealing paradox, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples he proved that real leadership begins with the most humble service.
Emadi advises men that “Spending an hour with 10 two-year-olds every Sunday may not stretch your preaching skills, but it might just be what the Lord uses to make you a more compassionate and faithful church member in the present and church leader in the future.”
Not only may serving the children of God’s Kingdom grow your faith, it just might give you better insight into how to minister to the parents of those children as well.
When you get to know the children in your church by interacting with them for an hour or two on Sunday mornings, you will not only be blessing their parents who are able to take a break from their busy weeks and hear the Word of God, you are being given a look into the parenting struggles they may be facing, and thus you will likely be more understanding and compassionate toward them.
The church needs all of its members to serve--men, women, married, single--you just might learn something from those little ones that you wouldn’t have been open to learning in any other context.
Publication date: August 19, 2015