"Picture the scene if you will, last Sunday morning.Father and mother of said child "up front" during opening worship. Congregation singing heartily away, all facing the front.Small child edges further and further to the front holding something in his hand.....with an "I dare you to react" face on. The thing he is holding is used for the discharge of urine from the body...and he's walking this way with it on view.....during the opening 10 minutes of the service.............................................Before I tell you how I reacted......over to you:in this scenario WHAT WOULD YOU DO NEXT?"
I promised I would tell you what I did:
As he edges forward to the front of the church, "body parts" in hand, I snuck up to him, lifted him and cuddled him close, taking him back to my seat where he remained cuddled in over my shoulder while the next part of the service took place (which I wasn't involved in). I whispered very close to his ear "mummy loves you very much" "you're my special boy" and similar sentiments which calmed him, reassured him and obviously settled him. After this short burst of focussed attention he was well behaved.
Should I have taken him out of the service to the front door, because he had deliberately pulled his trousers down? Maybe.
Were my affectionate actions rewarding his bad behaviour? Possibly.
Was this indulging him? I believe not.
Was this costly to me in terms of reputation, standing and the smooth running of the service? After all, the person MCing events this Sunday had a badly behaved child! Not at all.
Small children, especially when they are required to wait while pastoral staff parents busy themselves with service "stuff" for some time before the service actually starts, need to know how special they are; that they have a very unique place in your affections.
Thank you Father, that when I am pretty badly behaved and disappoint you - as can happen - you do the same thing for me!
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love.....Zephaniah 3:17