by Muriel Larson
A South Carolina senator felt a bit shaky. He had a slight rash, his head ached, and he felt sleepy. But he had many important engagements lined up and he felt he had to keep them. So he did. He congratulated all the winners at the Aiken Prep School's Sports Day. He greeted hundreds of voters at the Aiken Steeplechase races. He shook hands with more people than he could remember.
Finally, at last, he went to the doctor. "You have the German measles," the doctor pronounced after examining him.
As the senator recalled the many people he had come into contact with while feeling ill, he exclaimed, "Oh, no! I've probably infected thousands!" And no doubt he did.
But there's a flip side to contagion: we can be contagious in a positive way!
Having worked with children for many years, I know that when we are enthusiastic in our manner, song leading, and story telling, our enthusiasm can be contagious! Sometimes, after I have greeted a group cheerily, and then have led them in singing a chorus, I have noticed that some aren't singing. So I've given them a pep talk, and suggested we sing that chorus again.
The second time through is always the best! In fact, I was so impressed by this truth that I've always had the children sing a song twice, or perhaps even three times. For one thing, the children may not know a song very well. But the most important things are the challenge to team spirit and the challenge to worship the Lord with all our hearts. When the children have sung well, I enthusiastically compliment them.
I have often led children's church school or VBS assemblies in the opening program, and the response has been heartening. But once I served as pianist for the opening programs of a VBS. A nice gentleman led the opening program, but he spoke in a monotone and led the singing without enthusiasm. He had a much better singing voice than mine, I must admit. But he just wasn't contagious; and that's a quality that all of us who want to inspire children definitely need.
The truth is that many of us who have a God-given gift to work with children may not have a particularly great singing voice; but we can sure make up for it and then some by contagious enthusiasm!
Contagious enthusiasm can make all the difference in holding the children's undivided attention when we teach or tell a Bible story. I had a friend who was very effective in working with children. When rheumatic arthritis crippled her, she wept because she thought she would have to give up her work with children.
"When you're telling the story of Zacchaeus," she exclaimed, "you have to be Zacchaeus! You have to pretend climbing a tree!" Her church put her to work training others how to work with children in her inspiring way.
The way we work with children may influence them in one way or another for all their lives. They may grow up thinking church meetings are a bore; or they may catch our zeal for Christ and become contagious for His glory also.
Henry Ward Beecher declared, "The humblest individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon others."
The Bible says, "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). I guarantee that if you are filled with His Spirit, you will be enthusiastic in His great work!