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Heart Matters: Superhero for God

Children's ministry isn't easy. Now, I'm sure you're thinking, I could've told you that. Just take a look at the finger paint stains on my best dress shirt! But for me, an idealistic 23-year-old, that simple statement took a while to sink in.

I felt God's calling to professional ministry in junior high. My children's ministers and youth directors had always been my biggest heroes, and I grew up wanting to be just like them. I left college confident that God would place me in the perfect opportunity to serve him and become a hero for the next generation.

Just months after graduating with an education degree, my old youth director called with a children's ministry opening at church. God had a plan for me. My new church family greeted me with warm smiles and friendly handshakes.

I walked into the church office and sighed with pleasure. My very own desk. My very own grown-up job. My very own ministry. I set up my workplace with a matching pencil holder and file box. I was an organized, color-coordinated superhero ready to save the world's children.

The first few months flew by faster than a speeding bullet. I met with committees and organized events. I built relationships with families and even learned how to play Yu-Gi-Oh! with my first-graders. I knew I was on my way to becoming the Supergirl of children's ministry.

But as the year went on, I got caught up with the business of church work, spending more time in my office and less time with kids. I had to deal with disgruntled parents and tardy nursery workers. I still loved my job, but delusions of super strength and flying capes had long since disappeared.

By summer, my stress level was so high I could no longer leap over anything in a single bound. It was June, and vacation Bible school was just weeks away. One weary Monday, I spent the morning calling my VBS leaders to remind them of our upcoming meeting and their duties.

It seemed routine, but by lunch, things turned ugly. Two of my key leaders quit. I panicked. I had to get away from my desk for a moment. So I went downstairs to the children's church room, where God had placed the perfect distraction.

On Sunday, we'd learned about Abraham and Isaac, and how Abraham loved God so much he was willing to give up the thing most important to him. To put ourselves in Abraham's shoes, we made outlines of our feet and drew pictures of what was important to us. Instead of returning to my desk, I decided to display the feet and pictures as a reminder of our love for God.

I taped a path along the classroom wall with the construction paper feet. Then I taped up the kids' drawings, and one in particular caught my eye. It was Emily's. On the foot was a drawing of a lady and written under it: "Miss Sarah." That's me! I realized. Emily had drawn me on her foot!

I was important to Emily. It may've been a small thing, but that day, it made a world of difference. I felt God's strength enter me and remind me that with faith I can move mountains. I felt God's Spirit lift me so high I felt like I could fly. I felt like I could conquer the world for God. I felt like a superhero. And to Emily, I was.

On most days, I know I'm no superhero. Maybe a sidekick, but that's about it. But to Emily I'm important, and that's why I do this job. Not because it's easy, but because I love it. I love the kids and I love God. And I can show Emily and all my kids that with God, we're all superheroes.

Sarah Locke served as a children's minister in Georgetown, Texas.

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