Let’s start with something that I feel is little bit of an elephant in the room…
I’m a man. I love children. I hate that for many people (in my generation at least), that gives rise to all sorts of sordid connotations. Far too many times have people made sarcastic, hurtful jokes when I mention that I’m serving in the children’s ministry or that I thoroughly enjoy working with children. The problem is, I used to make the same kinds of comments once too! Is that why there are so few male children’s workers?
Time to man up
In the church I get to serve in, we have some phenomenal female children’s workers, creating a supportive, nurturing, loving environment for well over a hundred children each week. In fact more broadly, I’ve met many exceptional women who do outstanding work with children; until I was eleven, all of my teachers (bar one for around three months), were female. I’m hugely grateful for the quality of teaching I received. Women are nailing children’s work, but I strongly believe that men need to step up to the plate. Whilst there are some outstanding men in our church children’s work, there are simply not enough men supporting the growth and development of children in our society.
I guess I’m talking most to the males in my generation. The male students and those in their early-twenties who are somewhat understandably in hot pursuit of fame, fortune and/or success. I earn a living as a musician; I have to admit I sort of know what it feels like to want those things. But I have never been more convinced in the power and influence of one of the ‘grown-ups’ showing children how special they are – that they matter. We’re called as Christians to serve the needy, and who could deny that children are in need of passionate, strong adult role models of both genders? Jesus even highlights the importance of children in Mark 10:13-16:
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
A call to arms
This is a call to arms for men. Ok, those arms might be plastic swords and foam footballs – possibly even shaving cream and a silly hat (see pictures below) – but the children of this world need more positive male influences. The Department for Education has ‘found overwhelming evidence that children’s life chances are most heavily predicated on their development in the first five years of life.’ Shouldn’t we be a part of this crucial stage in whatever way we can?!
Click here for an interesting video I found on the subject
All photos used with the parent’s permission.