It was VBS, and an average of 70 happy, excited kids filled the church every day. It was Tuesday, and I scanned my assigned kids, aged 5-9, with the practiced eye of a VBS veteran (jk not really). A petite girl with flyaway blond hair sitting all by herself caught my eye. Bending down so we were eye level, I smiled at her, thinking to win her over in a few seconds.
“Hi! What’s your name?” I asked enthusiastically tuning into the voice that was only for winning over little kids.
She looked coldly at me. “Maggie,” she said in a flat voice.
A little taken aback, I managed to ask her, “Are you ready for another great day of VBS?”
Her big brown eyes stared back at me, and she shook her head decisively.
“Uh…well….okay. Hey, we’re going to have fun, okay?”
Maggie set her little mouth in a straight line, and I shrugged and turned my attention to separating two of my kids who were playfully tackling each other. But I now had a goal for this week: win Maggie over and help her to have the best week of VBS ever.
She was peculiar, and very different from the other kids in my group. The five year old didn’t seek out my attention and kept to herself, never begging to hold hands or sit in my lap. Whenever I or the other VBS youth leaders tried to talk to her, her responses were witty and very smart for her age.
She was obedient, but her walls were up. It was my job to gently break them down with kindness. As the week went by, I did my best to smile at her whenever I had the chance, include her in any games we played, and stand next to her during praise time.
Hopefully, I didn’t seem like a creep.
Maggie began to thaw, slowly but surely. My smiles encouraged such beautiful smiles from her that made her eyes shine, and she began to talk more freely with me. And finally, the day came when the little girl was sitting happily in my lap, joyfully singing along and clapping to our theme song.
What did I learn from Maggie? Be patient with people. They’re different from you, and you can’t expect them to understand or react to things the same way that you do.We are all God’s handiwork, and we should treat everyone with love.
Gently thaw them with kindness and love, and you may be surprised with the results :)