“I know how to run computers! Ms. Brooke, when can I start serving in this department? ‘Cause I really want an orange name tag!”
“Well, Dear, you can get a name tag when you get the sixth grade and start serving. What grade did you just start?”
It was the rush and chaos of a two-service, last-day-of-a-series Sunday. It was the Sunday that marked the end of my first month of Children’s ministry in a non-interim position. It was a day filled with handing out treats for my teachers and coordinating snacks. It was a day of new visitors with new faces and names to learn. Amidst the beautiful chaos there sat a second grader trying to run the department’s computer. Oh, bless him.
As our conversation continued we decided he’d be a special helper every week from now until he outgrew the ministry. When he got to sixth grade then he could be a “Doorholder” and get his name tag. He was quite pleased to hear this. I was tickled.
This made me think about the running joke/challenge at my university with name tags. You see, my school makes these magnetic name tags for every popular school activity. I often joke that your success and memory-making ability is judged by how many name tags you can collect before you get out of college. These are like gold to rising freshman and they become less important the longer you’ve been here and the more of them you have. I can remember all of my sophomore friends getting them and being super excited, “LOOK! I got my first one!” We covet name tags about as much as most Southern Christian girls covet the idea of a “ring by spring”.
If the jokes were true then you’d probably say I’m not a super successful college student. I only have two, and they both have the same title on them so. . . Here’s the truth about my college experience, I haven’t gotten involved in a ton of “popular” campus activities or organizations. The things I signed up to do weren’t cool or the most photographed things in the yearbook, but these were the things that shaped who I have become. They pushed me out of my comfort shell. They taught me to stick to things and leave them better than I found them. They taught me that change is good, and it sometimes has to start with me. They taught me to chase a vision of improvement and not be afraid to present it to other leaders. They taught me that piloting new things doesn’t mean it will look exactly like you expected, but in time all the pieces will fall in to place. They taught me that it is so much more than doing it for recognition.
Here’s the truth. I don’t have a lot of magnetic name tags. Guess what? I probably won’t have a bunch of name tags in the next season of life either. And I don’t think they’ll have name tags in Heaven, either. It isn’t about the tag- be it an orange lanyard with a plastic sleeve that a second grader idolizes or a plastic one with a magnetic strip living with a host of other tags on a dorm room fridge. Its about serving others, and having a heart that is willing to serve without the recognition. There’ll come seasons when we’ve earned the name tag, the recognition, the place in the front. I wear one every Sunday because I’m the director of a ministry. I’m a student director of a program at my university- I have a name tag. I also go to school every day and carry on a host of other activities where I never wear a name tag. People don’t need to know who I am. People need the saving love and redemption of Christ.
And I can give that to them without a lanyard or a magnetic strip.