“Act responsibly and allow God to take responsibility.” These are wise words from a wise woman named Kay. Kay is a woman I meet with regularly as a mentor, sounding board, and friend. And although this article is not about mentoring relationships, if you don’t have a mentor (someone further along in their journey with the Lord), you should find one. Over the last three years, Kay’s words about responsibility have created a monumental shift in my relationship with God because they have changed my focus from what I can accomplish for God to what I can accomplish with God. Task completion and quantifiable results are no longer the measuring stick for the success or failure of a task or ministry. If I “succeed” by quantifiable measures, glory to God. If I “fail” by quantifiable measures, glory to God. With Kay’s mentality, it’s no longer about the result (and my ego), but about my experience with God and the deepening of my relationship with him.
Leading rKids the past four years has deepened my love and commitment to Jesus Christ. Having transferred the director responsibilities fully, I have spent the last few months reflecting on the years I ministered as the rKids director. When I think about rKids, some “successful” moments include Backyard Bible Club, Family VBS, Bible-centered teaching, and children saying yes to Jesus. All those memories, and a thousand more, are a testament to God’s goodness and his pursuit of people (regardless of age) for a personal relationship with him. My reflection has also reminded me of the “failure” moments. I think of the countless ideas that never came to fruition or the moments when logistics failed to meet reality. The successes and failures that have happened in rKids are not the measure of a successful ministry, but rather they provide testimony to God’s goodness and faithfulness to me, and the children and families of Restoration Church. rKids has taught me that it’s no longer about what I can do for God, but rather, how God leads me. It’s all about trusting him with all your thoughts, feelings, and actions. As Kay would say, “act responsibly and let God take responsibility.”
When we read the Bible, we see God shaping his people through experiential learning rather than a final project presentation. In creation, God invites the reader to journey with him as he brings life and order to the chaotic darkness. As Genesis continues, Abraham journeys decades with God before receiving his promised son Isaac. In Exodus, the Hebrew people were liberated from Egypt as they witnessed God’s mighty hand through the plagues against Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea. King David experienced life and journeyed with God as a shepherd, warrior, and king. And Jesus did not come to earth as a full-grown man, but rather a baby who grew and experienced life as any other person, growing, developing, and learning. God is an experiential God who teaches us as we journey through life with him. He wants us to “take the field trip” rather than stay in the “classroom.” And because it is a journey and not a destination, we can “act responsibly and allow God to take responsibility” for the outcomes.
I admit, often I measured my success in rKids quantitatively. I saw my work within the rkids department as something to accomplish to please God. I wasn’t working for my salvation, but often I worked so God would see my heart and know how much I wanted to please him. When I meet my savior face-to-face, I want him to say to me, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” And there is nothing wrong with that attitude. However, in the last year leading rKids, my mentality of service shifted monumentally. I changed my mindset striving less to please God and concentrating more on walking hand-and-hand with Jesus. My service became more of a partnership with God as we worked together to lead children to the love of Jesus. It was very much a hand-in-hand journey with God, where I acted “responsibly and allowed God to take responsibility.” I know God on a deeper level because of my experience as the rKids director. I have greater trust in God and a greater love for him because I know how closely the Holy Spirit walked beside me through this journey. I have no regrets and no hesitation in passing rKids on to Elizabeth. I know that this chapter for God and me has come to an end. I still want to please God with my thoughts and actions in this life, but as I say goodbye to rKids, it’s less about what I
accomplished in terms of the final product and much more about the experiences I had with
God and his church.
Thank you, Restoration Church for affording me the experience of discipling your kids and leading the rKids volunteers of our church. You have provided a path for me to “act responsibly and let God take responsibility.” It has been a beautiful journey and I will forever treasure my rKids moments in my heart.
Written by: Leslie Banwart