At the time of this writing, my wife and I just concluded an incredibly emotional week for us. During this week Tina and I began to walk a path that many parents have walked before us and many will after us. Our oldest child, Jacey, graduated from high school. Now I am not the overly sentimental type but I found myself feeling incredibly emotional leading up to, during, and after the commencement ceremony. To be honest, my feelings really caught me off guard. I fully expected my wife to be emotional. In our marriage that’s always been the way it’s gone at major family life events; she gets emotional, I am her encourager, the shoulder to cry on, the voice to assure her everything is going to be ok. That’s not how it happened this time. This time we both required encouragement, both of us were in need of that shoulder, we looked for others to tell us everything was going to be ok.
My daughter’s graduation made me appreciate the local church. Naturally, having devoted my adult, professional life to local church leadership I already possess quite the respect for the church. But this time I considered the church less as the one who participates in its leadership and more as the beneficiary of the love, community, and service contained within. In my nostalgia looking back at the past 18 years of raising my daughter I was reminded of the role the church has played in her upbringing. You see, Tina and I made the decision years ago to raise our children in the church. Church attendance was going to be the priority above all else.
In making church attendance the priority it meant that many people over the years would play incredibly important roles as our children grew up. As I reflected back on my daughter’s childhood, adolescence, and now young adulthood I could not help but become ever more emotional thinking of all those sweet saints who invested in her at key moments of her spiritual, emotional, and physical development. Yes, Tina and I raised our daughter. We put in the hard work but it was not without a wonderfully loving and supportive network of caring men and women willing to give of their time, talents, resources, and lives investing in Jacey and walking alongside Tina, me, and Jacey as she grew not only as a woman, but as a Christian.
So, to all you nursery workers who lovingly rocked Jacey and patiently introduced her to the gospel through memory verses, crafts, and coloring sheets...thank you! Your investment has paid dividends. To Tammy G., you BASECAMP MCs, teachers, and check in personnel…Tina and I are in your debt. I had the privilege of baptizing my daughter because you welcomed her and invested in her life of faith. To those who served as camp counselors and VBS volunteers, your service created priceless memories from which she draw upon for a lifetime. To all you youth workers, and Neil H. and Bryan E…my family appreciates your being there by her side, supporting us as we navigated the treacherous years of junior high and high school. You have been Christ-like examples providing a safe place for her to mature, ask difficult questions, and grapple with her faith without judging or condemning her. To those precious couples in whom Tina and I have relied and kept a close eye upon as you walked this path right before us, thank you for your allowing us into the lessons you’ve learned and sharing your hearts with utmost transparency.
Many have said that it takes a village to raise a child. I don’t really give this cliché much credence unless that village is the church. You see, Jacey is who she is today for several reasons. There are the obvious genetic and environmental reasons. She is without a doubt a product of her family of origin, but she is also the product of a host of wonderful men and women who comprise the church and who took the time to invest in her spiritual development. You will forever be a part of her spiritual legacy. You have been incredibly instrumental in the development of her faith, a faith from which I pray she never wavers. Thank you!
If you currently serve in the nursery, preschool, elementary, or youth ministries please do not lose your passion to see the children under your watch grow in their faith in Jesus. What you do on a regular basis is tiring, it can be frustrating, it is emotionally draining; but I am here to tell you, the reward is great! Please do not see what you do as a burden, time wasted, or as something you “have” to do. This is something you “get” to do. What a privilege it is to be a part of someone’s spiritual adventure. What a joy it is to see someone in whom you’ve invested much transition toward adulthood with her feet firmly planted upon God’s Word!
Perhaps, you’ve been on the fence as to whether or not you ought to get involved in one of these areas of ministry. Maybe you’re seeking that place where you can meet the Christian’s mandate to serve. Do not underestimate the importance of investing in the generation that follows.
As many of you have walked this bittersweet path before Tina and me you know what this next season of life entails. My family will learn all this soon enough. We are excited about the newness of the time. We mourn the end of what we’ve known and appreciated for so long, but welcome the challenges before us. We are so thankful that as we let our daughter go and pursue the life she desires for herself it will be with the manifold wisdom of God, a confidence in God’s Word, a strong desire to continue to serve others through the local church, and with God’s will in mind.
Thank you Victor Valley Christian Church. You’re not done. Our son has three years to go, and there are several dozen other infants, toddlers, children, and youth who need you.
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