Growing up my parents always worked right through the holidays meaning my brother and I spent a fair amount of our time attending holiday programs. We went through lots of them might I add as we were also very picky about the ones we actually wanted to spend time at. From what I can remember I think there were all of two that we decided didn't entirely suck and that mum managed to convince us to attend more than once. Only one out of those two did I genuinely wake up feeling excited about. It became the reason I would count down the days till the holidays during the term because I couldn't wait to be reunited with my favourite leaders I had come to know and love. They were the reason I loved it so much. From the moment we met them we could tell that they were there because they genuinely wanted to invest in us not because they had to be.
Having a heart for where you are serving and what you spend your time investing in makes a bigger difference than people often realise. Being greeted by someone who is genuinely there because they've decided they want to be means that not only do they enjoy being there, it means that the people they are serving feel like they are wanted there too. This is especially important to remember in children's ministry. Something i've learnt over my years of serving in this area is that people often sell children short because they don't often realise just how observant they are and how much more they actually take on board from what is going on around them. Kids can tell right off the bat if you are there because you're genuinely invested in them or whether or not you're there because you have to be. Often it's the leaders that make or break an experience for a kid, they don't want half hearted leaders just as much as you don't want to be one. They want to get to know you as much as you want to get to know them.
My youth pastor once said, "We love people not because they love God, but because He loves them."
That's the key to having great influence. I remember walking into the holiday program for the first time and feeling so welcome and accepted from the moment I was greeted by a friendly face. I stood back and looked at the leaders and could see that there was something different about them than from the other leaders I'd encountered at other programs. I saw the way they not only interacted between themselves but with us kids. I could see that the difference in them was that they were genuinely in it for what they could invest in us and not what they could get out of it for themselves. They chose to take the amazing love of God that they themselves had experienced and work at sharing it with each and every one of us kids through the way they served.
It's the enthusiastic hellos, the secret handshakes, the "Have you had a good week?" conversations, the inside jokes and the little things that you remember about kids that mean the most and reveal God's love. Serving in an area you really have a heart for is when you'll be able to achieve the most influence. Never underestimate how much having a passion for what you do makes a difference.