Just a few months ago I was mama to a two-year-old and great with child anticipating the arrival of my second little boy. Those last couple of months of pregnancy were “uncomfortable”—especially when trying to keep up with a very active and determined toddler.
One morning, my son was in the middle of an independent streak where everything that had to be done was met with an, “I do it!” Put the waffles in the toaster? “I do it!” Pour milk on the cereal? “I do it!” Dispense medicine? “I do it!” Admittedly, my patience was wearing thin. In exasperation, I looked at my son and sighed, “Luke, you can not do everything yourself.” And there, sitting in his highchair, legs swinging, cup banging, he looked at me and said, “Jesus can do ANYTHING!” I sighed. But this time with a different intent. I was in awe—and humbled. “Yes,” I acknowledged. “And I haven’t had such a great attitude this morning. Do you think Jesus can fix my attitude?” And with the honesty only a two-year old can master, he affirmed what I was so desperate to hear. “Yup,” he declared. And that was that.
As a parent, this moment was ripe with meaning. My toddler had just schooled me. He had spoken a truth I needed to hear that morning. But there was more going on than me getting a reality check. It was the first time in our family when what was happening at church had leaked into our home.
Luke’s small group leader on Sunday mornings was taking the time to teach a big idea to our little guy. And he got it. He internalized it enough so that when he saw the chaos of a crazy morning, and the harried pace of a stressed out mother, he could say what an adult one morning a week was working so hard to teach him. And without even realizing it, this small group leader partnered with me, as a parent. They had spoken potent words that pricked my child’s heart—and in turn pricked mine.
See, when you, as a small group leader, are committed, care, get eye level with a preschooler and speak truth, take an interest, and simply know how to have fun and be silly, your words stick. And when they stick to a toddler they do more than shape the heart of that toddler. They set a tone in the home of that child. In fact, I would say, you are doing more than shepherding a child’s heart. You are—without even meaning to—shepherding a family. You have influence you don’t even know you have. You are partnering with parents, but you are also ministering to parents. Because of Luke’s small group leader, Luke and I both were reminded of a fundamental truth that morning. No, my two-year-old can’t do everything. But Jesus can—including change the attitude of his mom. And as a result, change the tone of the day and the climate in our home. For that, I am thankful.