Long before I became a political writer and reporter, I was a Director of Children’s Ministries at a Los Angeles church. Each Sunday I presented the Children’s Sermon for the congregation before taking the kids to their respective Sunday school classes. The theme of my lesson usually had to do with my childhood and what a miserable brat I was compared to my perfect younger sister, Lisa. One sermon was about how I stole candy out of my 3rd grade teacher’s desk because only the “good kids” got treats in her class–and I was, unfortunately, not always in that category. After school in the car ride home, my sister saw me eating the candy and innocently asked where I got it. Unable to think of a lie quickly enough, I started crying and immediately confessed my crime. Needless to say, everyone in the car was a little stunned at my outburst but I felt much better and learned a very important lesson.
Most of my sermons were lighthearted lessons tied in with scripture, but one Sunday I went a little deeper. I told the story of the night I had been angry at my father for going to an event without me, and had told him I hated him as he walked out the door. Early that morning, my mother woke me up to tell me my father had died in a car crash. I ended the message with Proverbs 10:12: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
Flash forward almost four years later–I recently got a phone call from the parent of one of my former Sunday school students. Her daughter was writing a thesis for her high school English class titled “My Epiphany Moment” and it was all about the children’s sermon about my dad.
“No matter how angry she’s gotten at me over the years,” the mom said, “she never goes to sleep without telling me she loves me. That’s because of the impact your story has had on her life.”
Out of all the ‘epiphany moments’ in my own life, few will live up to this one, reminding me of scripture from 1 John 3:18: “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
You never know how your words and deeds will affect someone, especially a child—so make sure you live your life in truth, and remember that future generations are watching you carefully, hoping to either learn great lessons from you or to use your life as an example as to what not to do when they grow up.