Often when we come stumbling into to the church nursery with hands full of kids, books, and bags, we are celebrating survival. We made it to church.Yes we began the day as a two-touchdown underdog. But we are here! Praise the Lord!
And as we bolt for worship service after a hasty “goodbye,” we often give very little thought to the nursery workers who just inherited are sweet, little children bent on destruction.
While we celebrate the power of the gospel a few hundred feet away, those brave nursery workers we left behind begin to face the never-ending onslaught of toys, pee, temper tantrums, bottles, and crackers. Not too surprisingly, most nursery workers cannot wait for the service too end and for us to come back. “Oh where are the parents?”
While there are things that our churches should do (such as insisting that nursery workers regularly attend church services) to maintain the health of their nursery program, we parents can also do a lot to help keep our church’s volunteers happy and healthy.
Here are 5 ways, we can count nursery workers as more significant than ourselves (Phil. 3-5).
1. Keep Sick Children at Home
I think it is great that you want to be a church. But if Sally is contagious and feeling ill, she does not belong in the nursery. She could infect the nursery workers and the other kids. By bringing your sick child to church, you could cause your friends to miss work, to incur doctor bills, and to spend sleepless nights.
Now I fully understand that we don’t always know when our children are sick. Not too long ago, my kids infected a few other families because my wife and I misread their little bodies. But if we know that our children our sick and infectious, we should not risk our neighbors health. We should count others as more important than ourselves and keep our little deranged steroid users at home.
2. Be Prepared
Again, I know this is hard. However if we can prepare well for nursery, we will save our kids and our nursery volunteers some heartache. If little Bobby is wheat, soy, lactose, corn, and water intolerant please send some snacks with him. Yes, our churches love your kids, but they cannot anticipate the specific dietary, discipline, and behavior needs of every child. If you can send food, toys, or information that will help your child last the 1-2 hours that he is in the nursery please do so. Don’t expect your church to have the resources of high-end private hospital.
And just in case you are wondering, the answer is yes. Yes, I have arrived at church without my son’s cup and diaper bag. I totally get no one is perfect. This not a rule but more a heart attitude. Instead of having a heart that demands your church’s to accommodate your child’s every need, seek to equip your nursery to minister well to your child.
3. Come Quickly.
Friends, I get that adult time is special. But if we are going to put others first, we must not impose upon the nursery team. They often have families and their own kids. The longer we wait to pick up our kids, the longer we keep others from adult conversations and from caring for their own families.
I know some parents assume the following, “Nursery workers love kids. What is wrong with giving them a few extra minutes with my darling little guy or girl?” Think of it this way.
I knew of a valet who was once responsible for a parking a brand new jaguar sports car. It was so beautiful, strong, and sleek that the valet could not help himself. About 18 miles, 15 minutes, and a broken axle later, he put the car into the restaurant’s parking garage that was a mere two blocks away. When the patron, got his jaguar back, he noticed that the changes to his car. He was furious. And the valet: he was out of a job.
Friends, the men and women in the nursery have agreed to watch your children for a few blocks. Thirty minute joy rides go are not part of the package. Please respect your nursery workers and make a good faith effort to pick up your children quickly.
I understand we will be late on occasion. I once dropped my son off in the nursery during our 8:45AM service and totally forgot about him. I was actually locking the doors to our kids’ center a little after 12:30PM when some very gracious nursery workers brought to me. Hashtag Fail!
There are also times when we may need to talk for 30 minutes to encourage a friend who just loss their mother to cancer. I get that and support such actions. But in general, we should always seek to quickly get our kids.
4. Say, “Thank You”
We know our kids. We love them. They are amazing. But they are our kids. Full of our faults and bad habits. They are little sinners. When you pick them up, thank the workers who just spent an hour or so with them. Let the volunteers know how much you appreciate them sacrificing for you and your children. The volunteers did not have to come and play with your child. But because they love Jesus, they came. Please, say thank you!
In today’s age of safety, I know not everyone can serve. There are interviews, background checks, and other hurdles to jump over. You may not be able to serve in your church kids’ ministry. I am not trying to guilt trip you into anything. But, the best way to understand what the typical nursery worker experiences is to spend some time in their shoes. Spend time changing other kid’s diapers, wiping up other kids’ spills, and listening to other kids’ cry. By being in the nursery, you will gain a better understanding of how much others have sacrificed for you and your family. You also will gain a better understanding of why your child’s diaper wasn’t changed or why your baby’s feeding was a little late, and why people are happy to see you pick up your child.
We should never forget that nursery is an awesome blessing. And we should always want to interact with the nursery workers in an understanding and loving manner. We should always seek to think more of them and less of us. Who’s with me?