I just spent five days and four nights with seven children between the ages of two and eight (and head back Monday for round two!) during our church’s high school camp (we watch the leaders’ children) and amidst the chaos, God showed me a lot.
1.) Quiet time is essential. Which can become quite difficult when there are seven children running around from seven a.m. until nine p.m.. By the time Genelle, Chloe, and I got the kids to bed, comprehending anything was practically impossible. We were giggly and confused and couldn’t get to bed fast enough. Anyway, the first three days I actually managed to have quiet time twice a day whereas the last two I was lucky to get in one session (the kids were getting quite tired and grumpy). Looking back, the difference I can see in myself on those days when I spent a lot of time with God and the days when I didn’t is pretty astounding. The first few days it seemed I had an abundance of patience, gentleness, kindness. As the week went on and I didn’t spend as much time with God, I became less patient, less gentle, and less kind. I had been telling the kids they needed to stop being so grumpy when I myself was just as grumpy. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.
2.) If you’re working with children, you have to look at thing’s from a child’s perspective. Children do not see things the way we do. We may not think that spilling a box of crayons is a big deal, but to a three year old, it can seem devastating.
3.) Encouraging and rewarding good behavior goes a long way. “Can you clean up your mess? You’re such a big boy! You did a great job, thank you so much for cleaning up!” goes a lot further than “Seriously? You need to clean that up right now!” Children are fragile and gentle and their self-esteem and self-worth are easily damaged, our words can impact them for the better or the worse.
I’m sure there are other things I wanted to say, but I’m exhausted and I have to go teach my fiance how to do laundry. Talk to you later people! And please be praying for us as we get to love on these wonderful children for another week, and for their parents as they love on the middle schoolers, and for the teens. God will do big things.
Photo Credit: Jose Ibarra