I’ve heard them three times while serving in ministry. The words still echo in my mind, you never forget them. they are some of the scariest words you will hear. What are they? Anything similar to the these:
- We can’t find (child’s name)
- We lost a child
- Do you know where (child’s name) is, we can’t find them
- (child’s name) is missing
- Where is my child?
I will not go into specifics of what occurred, only generalities. In one case, the child was dismissed per procedure and did not go to met their parent where they were supposed to meet them. The parent came to me and simply asked “where’s my child?” Those word continually echo in my mind. The other two occurrences I referenced were a result of apathetic leaders. Yes, that sounds harsh, but it is too often true. In all three cases, the child was always safe and in no danger, but those whom the parent entrusted the care of their child to, failed. Nevertheless, those moments when the child’s location was unknown still haunt me today.
I am reminded of John chapter 10 where Jesus talks about shepherds and hirelings. I do my best to be a shepherd to those placed in my care, those in my ministry. Jesus stated that,
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:12-13, ESV)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, He cares for His sheep. When children are placed in our care, in our ministry, we must be shepherds, doing all we can to protect them, to care for them. It seems that too often, volunteers are hirelings. there to fill a position, there to help, but not concerned for their safety like a shepherd. They often push against policies designed to protect the children. Yes, there are times that the “pendulum” can swing too far and excessive guidelines are put into place by “knee-jerk” reactions, and things can be too lenient. There needs to be a good balance.
We need to be shepherds, caring for the sheep.
How about you? Are you are shepherd or a hireling?
Have you ever “lost a child” during an activity or event in your ministry? If so, how did you feel when you heard a child was missing? Does it still echo in your mind?