Sunday night our church congregation sat enthralled as the Children of the World International Children's Choir performed their hearts out. These adorable kids from Nepal, Philippines and Uganda and dressed in native costumes danced, sang and drummed to raise awareness for Cause Life - a World Help program providing water wells in Third World countries.
When they raised their little voices and arms while belting out "A Global Hallelujah" there wasn't a dry eye in the place. It was moving and anointed and amazing. The lights of the stage radiated off their shining faces like the glory of the Lord. After their show was finished they came off the platform and into the audience and hugged people before running out of the sanctuary to the sound of applause.
Monday morning I arrive at the church at 8:00 am to help take care of all 15 choir kids for the day. Greeted by enthusiastic hugs from all of them, we fed them breakfast and started them out on a craft.
And that's when I noticed it. In the light of day, the angelic anointed children of the previous night were acting, well, mortal. Not everyone wanted to share. There was an occasional dispute over a glue stick or a pencil. Some of them got restless and rowdy and starting getting into things.
So we moved outside to run off energy. Some kids drew with chalk on the sidewalk. Other blew bubbles. Having only two bubble wands for 15 kids caused exactly the same kinds issues you would expect it to cause with American kids. I was working that out just before I had to go separate the two boys who had started a chalk war, using the chalk to mark each others' skin and clothing.
Nap time- yes, you guessed it. Some of them fell asleep instantly, others requested repeated drink and bathroom trips, still others slipped off their improvised beds of sanctuary chairs to crawl mischievously down the aisles.
By the end of the day, I was just as exhausted as I would have been if I had babysat 15 American kids all day.
So how did all this affect me? Did I think any less of them because I had seen this "other side" of the famous children's choir? Did I feel let down after spending time with them out of costume when they were not on performance behavior? Was I disillusioned at the difference between the children's Sunday and Monday manners?
Because I found out they were pretty much just like my kids, just the kids I've taught in children's church for years, and just like kids I've met all over the world.
My Monday with the choir reinforced something God is constantly showing me. And that is that people are just people. All people. Even when they are saved, anointed, called and in full time ministry. That includes pastors, missionaries, Christian musicians and artists, Sunday school teachers, as well as ordinary Christian folk, and your average man or woman standing in line at Wal-mart.
All people, no matter how "together" they look in public sometimes get stressed, get frustrated, struggle, have messes and laundry at home, run late, and feel insecure.
It applies double for kids. Kids are just people too. Yes, they can be called to great things at a young age. Yes, they can grasp spiritual concepts, and be taught of the Lord and used to minister to others. But that doesn't change the fact that they are still children, with immature emotions and limited experience in dealing with all the stress the world throws at them.
As parents - especially those of us with any kind of position or something else to prove- we need to be careful not to put a burden too heavy for our kids (or any kids) to bear by expecting them to be, well, better somehow. They aren't. Because we aren't. We all have the same struggles, and the same issues. Some people just hide them better than others.
Because we, as adults and parents, are just people too. We have bad days, and bad attitudes and melt-downs too. (I know you do, whether you admit it or not.)
It doesn't matter if you are growing kids God's way, or training up your child in the way they should go, or shepherding your child's heart, or sending your kids to Christian school or homeschooling. Your children are still just people. They need training, but they also need love and unconditional acceptance while you are showing them how to behave. And they desperately need to know that our love for them is not based on performance, but is unconditional.
Just like we as adults want and need.
It's called grace.
I am thankful I had one more chance yesterday to see a real life example of this truth. Many thanks to the beautiful, anointed REAL kids of the Children of the World choir for the opportunity.