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Does My Ministry Matter?
An important message for children's ministry leaders who ever wonder if their work counts over the long haul.

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High school graduation season arrives this week. When my son walks across the stage, receives his diploma with his left hand and shakes with his right, one era of his life will come to a close and another will begin.

At the same moment, an unwelcome friend called "Age" will wrap two arms around me and whisper in my ear, "Yes, you are old enough to have a high school graduate." My only defense: memories.

Birth. Walking. The bike. Tonsils. Father-son camps. Throwing the football. Learning to drive. And, most vividly, the first day of high school. Anyone in children's ministry will love this story:

Four years ago, God clearly directed our family to move from our home of 15 years in the Chicago area to Michigan. Kingdom adventures always sound so exciting. And then reality arrives.

We unpacked in our Michigan home three days before school started; my son's freshman year of high school. While the timing of our new chapter in life worked great for me, the timing did not work as well for my kids. For a few weeks, Scott did not show the anxiety he felt about attending a high school in which he knew no one. In the town where we moved to, everyone knows everyone because all the students grew up together. For a 15-year old who's new to the town, that's quite a challenge.

I drove Scott to school on the first day, and as our car inched forward in a long line of parking lot traffic, he said, "I don't want to get out of the car."

Hmmm. I didn't see that coming.

As the author of the book Words Kids Need to Hear, I felt like I should have just the right comeback comment. Instead, and to my horror, I remained quiet with no idea what to say. My wife says this was a historical moment—me speechless.

As we arrived at the sidewalk, God finally put an idea simultaneously on my mind and in my mouth. "Keep your phone turned on," I said. "Just turn it to silent and watch for a text. I don't care about the school's rules" (please don't judge me and keep reading).

Upon arriving back home, I sent him a text message (please give me credit for not texting while driving). Here's exactly what I sent him on that morning four years ago: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1:9, NIV).

I sent that verse because it's one of Scott's favorites. Here's how I know, and here's the build-up to the big point of this article: Starting at an early age, the children's ministry of our church in Illinois gave kids a verse card each week. My son developed a habit of taping key memory verses on the ceiling above his bed (he slept on a loft that was six feet high). For many years, Joshua 1:9 occupied center position.

Late that night before going to bed, Scott and I chatted about his day. "Could you send me another verse tomorrow?" he asked. "The one you sent today really helped me."

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Topics:Bible, Children, Discipleship, Encouragement, Family, Mentoring, Shepherding, Spiritual Care, Spiritual Growth, Stress, Teaching
Filters:Children's ministry, Children's pastor, Christian education, Director of Christian education, Family ministry, Shepherd, Small group leader, Sunday school

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