If you knew me, you would know that “sporty” isn’t exactly an accurate description of my athletic abilities. I have taken lessons in a wide variety of sports with less than stellar results. One thing I vaguely remember from tennis and golf lessons though, is that your follow-through is very important.
If I understand correctly, follow-through has to do with physics. To get power behind the ball, you need to keep your speed fast and consistent, never slowing down. If you drop the bat, racquet or club as soon as you make contact with the ball, your ball will not go nearly as far as it could have. Follow- through is the result of continuing to play even after you have made contact with the ball. You may think you are finished when you hit the ball, but unless you follow through, your efforts won’t be rewarded.
Follow-through is also critical in parenting. Frankly, I think it is one of the hardest things about parenting. A baseball doesn’t care what kind of day you have. All it knows is that if you don’t follow-through on your swing at it, it isn’t going to go very far. Now as much as we delight in our wonderfully caring and loving children, there are times when let’s face it, they just need their needs met by us. How our day is going is of little importance to them at the moment.
Last Sunday as I was almost finished getting ready for church, I was hit by the kind of pain that doubles you over. It quickly became apparent that a run to the emergency room was in my near future. I probably should have panicked.
This summer I am running our children’s Bible class program – Missionary Journeys. This usually means quite a bit of last minute set-up on Sunday mornings as well as co-ordinating volunteers and teaching one of the centers. None of that was going to be done by me that day.
We ran by the church building on the way to the hospital and basically kicked our fifteen year old daughter and all of the stuff needed for Bible class out of our car. As we drove off towards the hospital, she was left to do everything I normally did on Sunday mornings for set-up and co-ordination as well as the photography and filming that she normally does for me.
If you have been exposed to the Montessori Method of education or child-directed learning, you will probably adapt easily when the children in your Bible class begin to lead everyone off on a tangent. Most of you though, were exposed to a more traditional teacher-led educational style, particularly in Bible classes. Lesson plans were followed and those who tried to deviate were often ignored or corrected.
Letting the children take the class off on a tangent can be really scary. What if they start asking questions about subjects in the Bible that you weren’t prepared to teach? What if they manage to get the class so far off topic, the children don’t learn anything about God? The next time your class begins to get distracted by a tangential subject, I want to encourage you to think about allowing them a little leeway.
This is Blush. Blush is being trained by Canine Assistants to become a service dog for someone with a disability. So why did I have a speaker from a secular organization come speak to the children during Bible class today? Part of our class each week is spent learning about the felt needs of various people in our communities. The children are learning how they can help meet these needs and then share the Gospel with those they help.
The church helps many people all over the world with various felt needs. In some areas though, the world has organizations to meet felt needs that the church does not. The great news is that Christians can become involved in volunteering for these groups. As productive volunteers, we can influence the other volunteers, workers and the people the groups serve by showing them God’s love. I believe God can also provide opportunities to share His Words with them or invite them to worship with us.
One of my favorite things about doing service and mission projects at church is to see how many people I can get involved and excited about what we are doing. Many people will jump right in and busy themselves going about God’s work. Others may be a little more reticent (like Gideon or Moses) at first.
I have learned something from old Tom Sawyer and his fence painting escapade though. If you make serving God and teaching others about Him fun, others will jump in and start participating before they even realize it. Often these are the same people who might tell you they are not gifted for that work, or maybe they will say that particular work is just not “their thing”. Children may tell you they are too grown-up for such baby stuff. Try a little Tom Sawyer on them though and they will surprise themselves.