Are You Treating People Like a Child?

To give myself a break from my solopreneur experiences, I have participated in two church volunteer activities over the last few years.

When I work in the church kitchen on Wednesday evenings, I serve desserts. This is a task-oriented area of volunteerism. I don’t choose or prepare what desserts are served. My role is simple: I set out what has been designated as the desserts for that week, I ask people coming through the line which dessert they want, and I hand them what they requested.  

It’s basically one person, one dessert. No matter my mood (good or bad), no one gets two. And no one gets refused (unless we run out). Later, we wipe, remove and fold the tablecloths after the supper is over.

I suppose there are things I could do to become a better person while completing these tasks. But it won’t change the outcome very much. It’s still going to be one person, one dessert. And one tablecloth is removed from one table.

While there’s much to enjoy about task-oriented service (such as camaraderie, productive labor and a free meal), the framework for personal growth only goes so high or so low.  

Recently I contrasted this experience to my volunteering on Sundays in the church preschool department. While in the preschool department, I do what I can to become a better person. It’s like a 90-minute exercise in looking for your better angel – and making sure that’s the one you display.

No one wants to be grumpy while working a puzzle with a 4-year-old. No one wants to be a bad example of what it’s like to visit a church. And no one wants to say to a 4-year-old, “I’m sorry, I’m just not good with names. Tell me yours again.”

In preschool, you learn the names. Even the quarterly teachers who sometimes need to be reminded of names do it on the sly by asking the regulars.

The preschool department has been so instructive for me in seeing how life really works. We all start as these children do. We all want people to see us, to love us, to learn our names and to welcome us into a room.

We all need to learn (and sometimes be reminded of) the most basic principles: We were created and loved from the very beginning, and our time on this earth has a purpose. And we always keep something of this child within us.

One of the negative responses we might say to someone as we grow older is, “Are you treating me like a child?”

For some reason, children don’t want to be treated like a child. This I do not understand because you’d think this kind of treatment would be pleasing.

So maybe we can take another look at how this idea comes across. From what I can tell, to treat someone as a child of God is to see them, love them, learn their names and welcome them into a room.

So why not think of this question differently: “Are you treating me like a child?” Wouldn’t it be nice if more of us could answer yes?

Enjoy your magnificent journey.

– Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey
Vol. 3, Issue 9