I often teach preschoolers on Sunday mornings. Preschoolers are funny because they say exactly what’s on their mind, and they don’t like to listen. You think, for a hot minute, that you’ve got their attention. They’re sitting down on the polka-dot rug looking straight at you so you start to review their memory verse. Then, the next thing you know, they’re on the opposite side of the room dumping all the legos out of the blue bin you just cleaned up. It’s all very cute. Really, it is.
I’ve learned a few tricks over the last year-and-a-half for getting and keeping the preschoolers’ attention. One of them is to sing everything. No joke, it works. Just pick a simple tune, sing what you want them to do (eyes on me, quiet lips, sitting down, you name it), and like a colony of rats following the Pied Piper (but way, way cuter), they do what you say. It’s weird, but it works, and I love it.
The other trick I’ve learned is to pretend you have secret. Put your hands around your mouth and whisper very loudly, “Okay next, I have a secret!” Then slowly, get down on your knees until you’re at their level. Keep talking, getting quieter and quieter so they get closer and closer until they’re all sitting down around you. “This is a really really good secret,” you say, “and only the people who are sitting down over here get to hear it. Are you ready to hear it?”
And then you reveal your big secret! It’s usually something really great like directions to the next game or that you’re about to do a craft or watch a Bible story video. Preschoolers love secrets, and I love making them think I have one.
Many of you know that I have been serving as the Interim Soul City Kids Coordinator at my church for the last 15 months, filling the gap between one Family Ministries Director/Soul City Kids Coordinator combo and the next. I knew when I stepped into this role that it was likely going to be temporary – that’s what an interim role is for, after all – but I was open to the fact that God might change my heart and show me I was made for a role I never would have considered. However, he actually did the opposite. He confirmed, in me, things that I already knew to be true while using this role to refine me, to teach me to lean on him, and to grow my capacity as a leader in ways that I didn’t know were possible.
In July, I sensed God telling me that it was time to pick an end date, that this interim season was coming to a close and it was time for me to open myself up to something new. “Okay,” I said, “but what’s that something new? Are you going to tell me?”
Of course he didn’t, and he still hasn’t, and thank God for the few strong friends I have who pushed me to say “yes” to God and “no” to job security. Otherwise, I might still be swimming upstream against God’s will, trying to make something fit permanently that was never supposed to.
It seems to me, that for the last three months, God has been using my second preschool trick on me. You see, I haven’t done a great job at sitting and listening to Him this year, and now that I’ve turned my attention towards him to find out just what exactly he has for me next, all he keeps doing is smiling and whispering and beckoning me to come closer…and closer…and closer to Him.
“I’ve got a secret,” He says, “and only the people who are sitting quietly right here next to me are going to get to hear it. Do you want to know what it is? Come here. Come here. Come here.”
I keep looking at him, then getting distracted by things like Instagram and work and worrying and snacks. Yes, snacks! Because every time I sit down to write (which is a primary way I connect with God), I suddenly want cheddar cheese and/or chocolate chip cookies. But God in his goodness keeps smiling, keeps whispering, keeps beckoning, much like I do with those precious, distractible preschoolers, until the secret becomes more desirable than the distractions and I’m sitting next to him, waiting in anticipation for him to speak.
This blog post, I suppose, is my first step towards that anticipation. It’s my arms wide open, little eyes looking up and wondering, “Okay, teacher! What do you have for me? What’s this thing you’ve been wanting to say? Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!”
And even though the way feels dark, this listening posture is a much better one to be in.