I love, love, love student ministry. It feels so good to be back and involved again in my local church after such a long hiatus.
I’ve tried to narrow down the reason I love it so much. It’s not pretending to have a bunch of energy I really don’t have any more, it’s not trying to pretend to like the occasional Justin Bieber song that gets played, it’s certainly not proving what terrible hand-eye coordination I have in various games, and it’s not trying to recapture my middle school years. (really)
It’s Play-Doh. I love Play-Doh. You can shape it into all kinds of different shapes. It’s unstructured, free form and messy. There are no rules and you sometimes get your hands dirty, but you can transform Play-Doh.
People are the same way. We’re moldable and shapable. Especially as kids. Ever notice how they can’t stop talking about someone they met and just find totally awesome? But this happens at all levels, and with good and bad experiences. You might remember just one random encounter with an adult where they said just one little thing to you, good or bad, that you’ve held on to your whole entire life. It was small to them, and now, years later, they probably don’t even remember having said or done it. But today, you remember that experience from childhood like it was yesterday, and it has become a part of who you are.
That’s Play-Doh. Every time you touch Play-Doh, you change it, and sometimes those changes stick and become permanent.
As adults, we have no idea when the small, nice things we say and do will be remembered for 40 years like it was yesterday. We also don’t know when a good natured joke or ribbing will cause emotional pain for years to come, either.
It’s going to get messy, we’re going to get our hands dirty and do things the wrong way a million times. We’re not going to know what changes are going to stick and become permanent, and we don’t know when someone else will swoop in and sculpt their own masterpiece for good or bad, erasing everything we’ve done.
All we can do is draw closer to the Savior, let Him sculpt us into the masterpiece He has in mind. Then we take whatever small influence we have with anyone around us (but especially with every kid) and do our best to be the masterpiece that Jesus is making, and use whatever influence we have—no matter how small—to point back to Him.
The awesome thing is that Jesus is sculpting a masterpiece in everyone, and I can have a small part of it just in the brief influence I sometimes get. That’s awesome, and that’s why I love student ministry.