A Gold Star

Today, I want to share a thought from my 3rd and 4th grade coordinator Stacey Davis as she encourages us to bring back the gold star!

Gold StarsIn Kindergarten and preschools across the country, children earn “gold stars.” They receive them for completing various tasks successfully. These tasks include being able to tie your shoes, complete a math problem or say please and thank you. Have you seen a child’s face after they receive a “gold star”? They beam with pride and accomplishment! They know they tried their best, were affirmed and, as a result, feel empowered to earn another “gold star.”

Somehow as we grow up and are no longer in the innocence of preschool, the gold stars stop. People simply do not affirm each other as much in adulthood. Ryan Frank puts it this way in his book 9 Things They Didn’t Teach Me in College About Children’s Ministry, “consider the amount of criticism many people endure at work, school, or even at home.” This sentence opened my eyes! Adults go through their daily routine very rarely hearing they did a “good job”!

The church needs to be champions at encouragement! We should be the place where people hear they are wanted, appreciated, loved and accepted. We need to start being salt in the world to our volunteers! Yes, volunteers at a church usually serve for the joy of the Lord and do not expect a thank you or a “that a boy.” But we should still give praise and encouragement to others! 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” Paul is saying to believe, affirm and speak words of love to each other.

There are many ways to give “gold stars” to volunteers. In the 3rd and 4th grade ministry, we send hand written thank you letters to a volunteer who went above and beyond in their ministry every week. We state what we saw, write that down and then send it out to tell the person we believe in you! Another way of giving a gold star to a volunteer is by being there. The ministry of presence is a huge gift to a person. Remember, you are not just a volunteer’s task giver; you are their connection to their church. Depending on the size of your church, you may be the only Pastor or staff member they have ever met. Therefore, feel empowered to do the ministry and represent your church well. Go to funerals, go to hospitals, go to birthday parties, go to dinners; just be Jesus wherever you are to your people. You will never need permission to be Jesus to others. The Great Commission has already commanded you to do this!

Christians should be the greatest encouragers! Imagine what a ministry would look like if everyone said one word of encouragement a day or even a week. Just think how volunteers would feel empowered and ready to do the work of God knowing that someone believes they are successful at ministry. This volunteer would bless so many children because they were given a “gold star” in serving!

Stacey Davis is the Grades 3&4 Weekend Coordinator at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA.

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