I love beets and it’s my daddy’s fault. While I was raised in the city, my parents were country folks. Daddy always had a large garden, and one vegetable he raised from time to time was beets. Mother always pickled them in jars with sugar and vinegar.
At supper time (that’s what we call the evening meal in the South), daddy would search through the refrigerator until he found the chilled jar of pickled ruby-red beet slices. He’d jab a fork in the jar and bring it to the table. We’d pass the bowls of food around the table to dip our plates, but the jar of beets sat beside daddy’s plate. He would lean over to me and say, “Patsy (nobody called me Patsy but daddy), want some beets.”
I’d shake my head side-ways. He’d pierce several of the sweet ruby slices and pile them on his place. He always bragged about how good they tasted. “If you would try them you would like them,” he would always say. I tried them and I didn’t like them. But daddy ate them with such enjoyment, and he always encouraged me to try them; so because I loved my daddy, I would try the beets again.
If you’ve ever tried beets, you know they have a very earthy taste. I liked the sweet and sour taste that pickling produced, but I couldn’t get past that earthy taste. But, daddy kept encouraging, and I continued to taste until I finally developed a taste for them. Now, I keep some in my pantry all the time; partly because they remind me of daddy, and partly because I love them.
That’s what parents do; expose their children to different things, new things, new places, new ideas, and new books. That’s what children’s ministry leaders do too…only we expose children to God experiences, God ideas and deeper places in God. Actually, it’s the role of parents and teachers to help children experience the presence of God, but often neither seems to fulfill this role; because they don’t understand the power of influence that is needed to take children into God’s presence.
How did my dad influence my personal desire to eat beets?
1. He made room on his plate for the beets.
2. He modeled enjoying them personally.
3. He encouraged me to taste.
4. From sincere love that comes out of relationship, he continued to encourage me.
Those same principles must be employed for children’s leaders to take children into the presence of God. Children love the presence of God. I have seen children of all ages have the time of their lives, praying and seeking God. But, they don’t have the life experience to know how good His presence really is until we help them experience it themselves.
The four points as adapted for children’s leaders are:
1. Love God’s presence personally.
2. Model our love for worship and His presence.
3. Encourage them to take little steps toward God.
4. Continue to encourage children to experience His presence, in a variety of ways,.