The first time a prophet spoke over me, he said, “You feel like when you are somewhere, if there is a problem, you were put there to fix it.” He went on to tell the leader of the children’s ministry at that time that I would be an important part of the transition of the ministry.
This all blew my mind. He was certainly correct in his statement about my innate desire to be a problem solver. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a season of God giving me a deeper understanding on why I loved working with and being around children.
Over the next four years, I committed myself to teaching them the basic fundamentals of the bible. Each lesson was just as much for me to embrace and receive personally, as it was for me to teach them. I learned that the three to four year old children needed a different approach than those who were seven and eight years old. I learned that the older children were more inclined to ask challenging questions concerning the things of faith.
I also learned how to discern those whose hope somewhat depended on their interaction with me for those few hours we spent together. I was a light of inspiration, of love, and of peace, to those who didn’t have that at home. On occasion, I needed to take the little hands of a dear, precious child and pray for them because I could literally feel their brokenness in my own spirit.
One of the most important things I keep in mind is that children are impressionable. They see what you do, and whether you make it look “cool” or not, they want to follow in the footsteps of those whom they admire. I too, was once that child that looked up to certain people and decided, “I want to be like you!”. I realized how important it is to watch my words and my actions in dealing with children to avoid teaching them something without even trying. They look at adults and generally accept what we do as permissible. We are being watched, and no matter whether you have children or not, there is a child who will probably be impacted and influenced by their experience with you.
I took some time to think about those from my childhood who impacted me most by tapping into my gifts and abilities, which contributed to the woman that I am today.
Mrs. Muhondro, my first grade teacher who made coming to school an oasis experience, in the midst of my brothers and me going through the foster care system.
Mrs. Gilbert, a third grade teacher who ignited my love for words and poetry with her lessons on literature. It was then that I grew to love writing, whether it was poetry, short stories or essays.
Mr. Richfield, a sixth grade math teacher who made learning math a great experience. I hated math growing up, because it seemed so difficult to understand, yet I ended up specializing in Freight Audit for nearly 10 years of my corporate career, which required a level of analysis and mathematical acuity that I never imagined I’d utilize, because math “wasn’t my thing”.
Coach Gazaway, my 12th Grade History teacher. I wasn’t a big fan of history class. I took a Sharpie and wrote on my class binder, “I hate U.S. History.” Coach Gazaway saw this one day and I’ll never forget the look of amusement on his face. He reassured me that I would change my mind about that. Needless to say, I did.
Pamela Green and Renee Little. Two women who were on staff at non profit organizations I was a part of growing up (Girls Inc and Anderson Boys & Girls Club). These two were great examples of strong women with a love and desire to pour into children. They both had a great impact on me at a time when I had very little self esteem as a teen.
Although they raised me, one of the most valuable things that my grandmother and grandfather taught me by example is to being willing to serve people. You cannot lead unless you know how to serve.
There were many other great teachers and people of influence who have been a part of my journey, but these were some of the most memorable. I’m grateful to have cross paths with them, and will always cherish the positive experiences I had through their willingness to share their passion.
One thing that is embedded in my heart and mind is the fact that children don’t forget those who make an impact on them. I strive to make my experience with children full of love, happiness and most of all, teachable moments. I have had the beautiful blessing of experiencing the love of children who appreciate what God does through me. Their smiles, their hugs, their little voices….it motivates me to be a great example. To hear, “I want to be like you when I grow up!” is such a humbling thing. I have friends who joke about how I usually end up with the little children when we’re in a group setting. I can’t help it. The joy that I feel when interacting with them is something I can’t really explain. I’m grateful to be called to our little ones. I’m grateful to be able to share the values that have been passed to me from those who have poured into me. It is a never ending cycle of influence, and we must be intentional about making a positive impact.
I pray that these words have been a blessing to you.