It’s enough to make you paranoid. The fact that you never know what moments your children will look back on in their memories. What words they’ll latch onto. What moments will influence and “build them” into the growing person they’re becoming.
I’m constantly reminded by this in youth ministry as well. We can craft a series of moments, plan a retreat, be aware of environments for worship and follow the Spirit’s lead in prayer. But in the most unlikely place, God can connect a student with a new revelation for their life. I remember some of the formative moments in my times as a child, and as a student in youth ministry. Sure, there were some obvious ones – my 16th birthday party where my mom still let me take friends to Little Caesar’s to play in the fun house, drive silly cars, and act like 10 year olds again. Or in youth ministry, when our youth pastor had us to retrieve an object from the woods that represented our current walk with Christ. I chose a branch, as I was heading out of high school and felt like God was reminding me to stay connected if I wanted to grow.
But I also remember the unscheduled moments. The times that may have been completely unnoticed by most of the people around. I remember walking down the hall of my elementary school, having just won a spelling bee, reward money in hand, and feeling like I’ve got a pretty good life. I remember in the midst of a VBS program, being that kid who would ask “What time is it?”, my classmates would say the time and I’d tip my chair over, feigning how tired I was. Class clown at an early age, fo’ sho.
I also remember the candid moments my youth pastor didn’t spend hours planning, that impacted me in big ways. I remember on a youth camping trip, his son Shaw was pretending to play basketball. I played with him, just for a few moments, and in that brief moment God planted seeds for when I would be a father someday.
So we plan big things for our girls, and I plan big things for my youth. I celebrate their birthdays, applaud at their ballet recitals. I write messages and speak things I hope will connect with their souls. But I’m also working to be aware of the little moments, and acknowledging that I have no idea what God might desire to use. I suppose that’s why we offer him our all, eh….? 🙂