“Where’s Miss Joanie?” the little blonde-haired two-year-old anxiously whispered. Miss Joanie has been serving in our early childhood area at church since before I came on staff almost nine years ago. Every week, she is there early getting everything ready for the little ones to come in. This particular morning Miss Joanie was home sick, and my little two-year-old friend was NOT happy about that!
My little friend was one of those children who had a bit harder time adjusting to the twos room. She cried—no, sobbed—when her mom dropped her off the first few weeks. But, after a little while she formed a connection with Miss Joanie, and the tears stopped.
You see, Miss Joanie was PRESENT. Every week she was present. And not only was she physically present, but she was mentally and emotionally present. You will never see Miss Joanie checking her phone, chatting with friends or cleaning out her supply box once children enter the room.
Miss Joanie looks little ones in the eyes when they are talking to her. She snuggles them close to her if they are teary, or want to read a special book. Miss Joanie pays attention and can tell you something about each child that will help them be more comfortable. Thomas loves the train book. Lauren loves to hold the baby dolls. Michael is happiest when he’s rolling cars on the rug. On and on she goes—able to remember that one special thing that speaks to the heart of each and every child.
Miss Joanie is modeling what we want every child to learn about God. We want them to know He is PRESENT. We want them to know that He has every hair on their head numbered. We want them to experience relationship in our environments, because we know ultimately we want them to experience relationship with God.
What an awesome privilege we have each week to be PRESENT both physically and mentally. I love the way 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 is written in The Message – We weren’t aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we DID.
This, my friends, is why I do children’s ministry. These kids have my heart and my passion is to partner with their parents to pass on unshakeable faith and a deep, abiding relationship with their Heavenly Father.