This morning as I was driving to work I was praying about a situation with a child in our ministry. We have been having difficulty with this child and his impulsiveness. As I was praying several thoughts kept popping up in my head and every one of them were from one of my favorite movies, “The Sound of Music”. Here are some lessons learned from a nun named Maria.
Lesson 1 – Keep a sense of humor. The first evening at the Von Trapp house, Maria sits on a pinecone at dinner. After crying out, she blames it on rheumatism. Rather than lash out at the children, she quietly talks about how thankful she is for the “gift” the children gave her earlier in the day and says, “Knowing how nervous I must have been – a stranger in a new household, knowing how important it was for me to feel accepted. It was so kind and thoughtful of you to make my first moment here so warm and happy and pleasant.” The children, feeling rather guilty, start to softly cry. Maria’s point was made without any harsh words, but rather in a quite comical way. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Oh how often a volatile situation can be diffused with a chuckle or two.
Lesson 2 – Be confident. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Maria leaves the abbey for her new endeavor to be governess to seven children (about the size of a small group!), and starts singing the song, “I Have Confidence”. Truth be told, Maria was really trying to convince herself that she did indeed have confidence in the situation. There have been times in ministry where I wasn’t really sure about how to handle a difficult situation, but God has always been faithful to give me exactly what I needed when I needed it. I have heard the saying, “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips those He calls.” I believe this is true. Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God has supplied you with everything you need to complete the work he has given you. I am confident of this.
Lesson 3 – You can be firm and kind. In the song referenced above, there is a line that Maria sings, “I will be firm, but kind.” Sometimes we think that in order to get our point across or for our discipline to be effective we must be harsh. Nothing could be further from the truth. We can be gentle and still be firm in our discipline. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” And verse 4 says, “a soothing tongue is a tree of life.” We want to speak life to our little ones, even in discipline. I have often told workers that we cannot change in one hour on Sunday morning all that has gone on during the week. We just have to love each child with the love of Jesus.
Lesson 4 – Pray for our children by name. One cute scene in the movie is Maria’s first night at the Von Trapp house. Before climbing into bed, she kneels down and prays for each of the children. Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember Kurt’s name, so she just prayed for God to bless “what’s his name.” Too cute!! We try to have a good leader/child ratio so that we can foster relationships with the children we minister to. We try to have our small groups really be “small” groups. We want our leaders to know the children by name and to pray for them. I pray for my leaders every day and I encourage my leaders to pray for their little ones – by name.
Lesson 5 – If you leave, the Lord will bring you right back. Just ask the Reverend Mother. #justkidding #kinda #notreally #maybealittle #signedupforlife #truth #loveyouall #forreal