Even though we’re reminded in Scripture not to hold some spiritual gifts and ministries in higher esteem than others, since we are all part of the same body in need of the unique callings and work of all its parts, we can at times fall into that trap. One area that can be tempting is in regards to the gift of teaching. You may find yourself thinking that the higher up the educational ladder you are, the more spiritually accomplished you are. If I can teach wise, elder members of a congregation that is more impressive than “just” teaching some little kids. You’ve really got to be real spiritual to do the former, and the latter is just glorified child care, right?
But listen to these words of Jesus from Mark 9:33-37:
And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
The disciples are wrapped up in who is the greatest. Maybe it is a discussion about who is the most spiritually mature. Jesus’ response is to take a child into his arms, and challenge these bickering disciples to do a great work–to receive a child in his name.
That’s not a work that is leftover for those who can’t do something else. He says this to his twelve disciples, future leaders of the early church. Working with and for children is a great, high calling. It is a wonderful witness that within the church children are valued so much. They are not a nuisance nor are they a distraction of the real work of the church. Receiving a child in the name of Jesus is part of what we are called to do.
We have been gifted by God in different ways, so don’t let the differences lead you into ranking these works or associating some with differing levels of spiritual maturity. All of God’s gifts are needed and valuable to him.
So today I give a special thanks to all who work with children. Know you do a special work of Christ in sharing his love with those little ones.