All Kinds of Everything
OK, here’s the place to admit it, right at the start. I love the Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, I’ll say that again, in case you thought you’d read it wrongly. I LOVE the Eurovision Song Contest. I love the outrageous, overblown sense of theatre, the bizarre voting, the soaring ballads, the cheesy pop songs, the accordions, the balalaikas, the Mongolian nose flutes…
And it’s not only during May (when the contest is usually held) that I’m obsessed. I have hours and hours of Eurovision music on my iPod, I watch videos of the Portuguese entry from 1996 on YouTube (a lovely ditty by the woman who played Colin Firth’s housekeeper in Love, Actually) and can tell you where the contest was held in 1972 (Edinburgh, if you’re interested).
Why am I telling you all this? Well, I’m not trying to turn the blog into some kind of group therapy session. Nor am I trying to convert you to loving Eurovision too. (OK, secretly I am.) I’ve told you about one aspect of my life and I wonder what impression you have of me. You’ll have doubtless formed some opinion of who I am – it’s OK, we all do it. I’m a serial ‘judger’ myself.
When I think of my group at church, I automatically assess them on how well they behave. I dread the sessions when the children who never listen turn up, because I know what I’ve planned to do will either get derailed or take twice as long to get through (thanks to the continuous ‘Olivia, put your phone away’, ‘Olivia, Ben is trying to speak, can you listen to him?’, ‘Olivia, don’t sit on Chloe, find your own chair’).
My expectations are reduced because of the judgements I have made. I think, ‘Well I can’t do an activity like that, because they won’t concentrate for long enough.’ And this means I do my best to limit what God can do. It is, in effect, another aspect of what Sam Donoghue describes in his article in issue 12 of Childrenswork magazine. I stand between my group and God, filtering all the things I think the group will engage with and those I think they won’t.
But where is my trust? My trust is in the activities I have prepared, in my ability to crowd-control well enough to get through them.
It is not in God.
Rather than filtering, I should be helping the children connect with God. Instead of discounting approaches, I should persevere with the counter-cultural and the spiritual. I should open myself up to what God wants to say to the children and do in their lives, and join him in that work.
So, close your minds to the preconceptions you might have about your children and defy your own expectations in what you do. Explore something new, do something different and God might just surprise you, by doing all kinds of everything*.
*All Kinds of Everything. Dana. 1970. Do you get it? No? Oh please yourselves…