Ever wonder about those rowdy kids in your congregation? Think they will grow up to be no good? When you tell them to behave, do you think that it is all they will remember about you 20 years later?
My grandmother died on Christmas Eve. After the service at the gravesite, one of the godly matriarchs of the church approached me. This church is the one in which I grew up: Baptist, conservative, rural, and small. This woman was concerned that the only image I had of her was of the time I was twisting up the curtains in a Sunday School classroom, and she sternly told me to stop. I was a bit taken aback. I had to search my memory a long time to even remember the incident; indeed, my recollection may be entirely lost now. Yet it has been a worry of this woman for 25 years.
Let me tell you what I remember about this woman.
She is the one that was always in charge of the mission groups at our church. Our focus on missions at Christmas and Easter were led by her. She encouraged me to do mission action projects. Even after interest among my peers had waned, she was the one who encouraged me to do another level of Acteens (a mission group for teenage girls in which you complete levels of service). This woman was truly one of the saints in that church when I was younger.
But I wonder if the only way she remembers me is as that little girl twisting up the curtains. After six months of wondering, I am beginning to believe that I will write her a letter and tell her that there is so much more that I remember.
Because of her, I took a special interest in missions. Because of that interest in missions, I felt called to the ministry. Because of that call, I went to divinity school for my Masters of Divinity. Because I went to divinity school, I had to take a preaching class. Because of that preaching class, I found out that I love to preach. Should this little, curtain-twisting girl dare to call herself a pastor?
For what it is worth, even the little children in our churches have a perception of older members. They learn through our actions and our teachings. They may not remember a one-time scolding 25 years later; but hopefully, we can plant a seed in their hearts that helps lead them to God.