One mark of great leaders is a growing capacity to love people. Listen to Paul’s words: “The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes!” (Romans 1:11, The Message).
Are you in children’s ministry to give yourself to others or for a pat on the back? If you’re looking for a pat on the back, you’re headed for disappointment. Almost every week someone tells my pastor about his great sermon. I want to stick my finger in my throat and barf (only kidding). It isn’t fair! The kids never tell me how great my lesson was. They never thank me for bringing the Scriptures to life. Here’s the thing: it’s okay because I didn’t sign up for a pat on the back. I signed up because I love and care about kids and their families.
In 2 Corinthians 12:15, Paul says, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” Now that’s love! Paul was willing to give everything he had, including his life, to lead people to Jesus. Paul knew that a successful ministry takes love.
Gladys Aylward was born in London in 1902. She had a desire to serve as a missionary but was turned down by the China Inland Missionary Society. They said she wasn’t qualified. However, this was one determined girl. Her opportunity came in the person of an aging missionary, Mrs. Jeannie Lawson, who was looking for a young assistant to carry on her work. Gladys saved up her money and, in 1930, spent her life savings on a train ride to Yuncheng, Shanxi Province, China, where she ministered in a remote area
In 1938, Japanese forces invaded her village. Gladys single handedly led over one hundred orphaned children to safety. Unable to use roads or transportation, she was forced to lead them on foot over the mountains to the safer province of Sian. The one-hundred-mile trip took almost a month. On the journey, she became sick. She collapsed when they finally arrived at Sian. The doctors were amazed that she made it far as she did—she was suffering from typhus, pneumonia, a relapsing fever, and malnutrition. Gladys is a hero, especially to those of us who love and serve kids. She sacrificially loved those children and cared about their souls.
She is an example of what God can accomplish using the least of us. Every act of love makes a difference, even in the lives of children and people you may never meet. Dr. Wess Stafford says, “Your small pebble in the pond of one child’s life may send out ripples that eventually transform many others.” Never forget the importance of each small pebble of love!