A Little Initiative

I got to teach second and third graders about initiative on Sunday, or they taught me.

I miss teaching Sunday school but with my new role at church as Leader Of Leading Leaders And Other Musical But Less Leadery People or whatever, and with my time on the road a couple weekends each month, well, I don’t often have the opportunity on Sundays to talk Bible with the attention-challenged little people I love anymore. Dang it.

Big people are so boring.

But, like I said, this Sunday I got to sit with the kids again. We talked about Nehemiah and what he did when he found out his hometown was creamed in a war – the wall around the city was broken, the gates were burned and the people returning to it were vulnerable to attack but too poor or unskilled to rebuild the town.

“What did he do when he heard about all this?” I asked.

“Nothing,” one boy said.

“Look in the bible. We read it. The answer’s riiiight there,” I pointed to a line in the first chapter of Nehemiah’s diary.

“Nothing,” he said. “He just prayed.”

We talked about how praying sometimes feels like doing nothing – But it’s really an important part of taking initiative. Initiative, the lesson book said, is seeing a problem and then doing something about it. Praying is a good first thing to do when we see a problem, especially when we don’t know what else to do or can’t do what we know needs to be done.

My nephew Nathaniel is in this class. When I asked the kids what problems they’d seen this week he raised his hand. He’s a man of few words. “My mom’s eye,” he said.

I told the class about Amy’s cancer, the surgery to remove it, the multiple visits to the hospital since then to correct eye pressure and torn stitches, the headaches and nausea and just how hard it’s been for the whole family to live without mom up and about and doing all the stuff moms do to make our world go ’round smoothly.

Another boy talked about “poor people” around the world who need houses and clothes and food.

Another girl said she just moved to town. I asked her if she’d made many friends yet. She shrugged her no and lowered her head to stare at the carpet.

Sickness. Poverty. Alienation.

Ancient problems.

Three kids in the circle took initiative and volunteered to do something about them.

“God, please make Amy’s eye work right.”

“…give them food and better houses…”

“…and help her make friends. Amen.”

That’s something.

How can I pray for you this week? I’d be honored to take a little initiative.