We talk about encouraging leaders.
We talk about encouraging kids.
We talk about encouraging each other.
But what about parents? What can we do to encourage the dads and moms who bring their children in our clubs? For some of these parents, we might be the only people they know who are Christ-followers. (For some of them, their impression of Christians is that we’re angry, hateful and don’t care.)
We not only have the privilege of treating these parents with kindness, but this is our God-given responsibility. But how? How can we make a difference when we see some of them only a few minutes each week.
Here are some ideas.
Always smile, greet them and let them know they’re welcomed.
Take advantage of any news a child tells you. If there’s a new baby in the family? Make a meal. Did Great-grandma die? Send a card. Is Mom in the hospital? Stop by with another leader for a quick visit. (Bring some flowers.)
Find out what you can about them. Does Evan’s mom like hiking? Print off that blog post about hiking trails in the area. Does DeShanti’s mom like cooking? How about giving her those cooking magazines you were planning on tossing? Does Jackson’s Dad like fishing? Introduce him to Leader Dan, an avid angler. Show an interest in them.
Give compliments. Parents always like to hear good things about their children. Telling a parent that her child did her verse well, was a peacemaker in an argument between a group of kids, did a great job helping with the songs, or simply “has the greatest smile,” will mean a lot to a parent. But don’t forget the parents! Noticing that a dad has on a shirt from your favorite sports team or that a mom has a pretty scarf can also be a friendly way to open a conversation.
We can be ready to help out when we can. Just this week, I had a mom write me a note asking me to talk to her son about obedience in picking up his toys and going to bed without complaining. Working together with the parent in situations like this can help both in the child’s home and in club.
Other times, help is asked for in more serious situations. Sometimes Awana is the only “church” a family knows. When something major happens in a family, they call on the Awana leadership to help.
Our willingness to serve could have a long-term spiritual effect on the child or family. Sometimes we are privileged to see the outcome. Other times, we might never know. Still, our smile, our friendliness, our willing to step out with kindness should be who we are and what we’re all about as leaders.