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As one who has worked around kids for a few years now, I can honestly say that some kids are more fun to work with than others. There are some kids that really try my patience, and usually they are accompanied by parents who are similar. The funny thing is that sometimes it’s through these ‘trouble’ kids that I become a better teacher, minister, and servant. It’s the hard kids that force me to think through what I’m preparing way beforehand to fill in all the gaps perfectly, it’s the hard kids that sharpen my methods, and it’s the hard kids that ultimately have made me the Children’s minster I am today.
While in Dallas for 4 years I worked with some of the hardest kids, families, and parents I have ever ministered to. Don’t get me wrong, not all of them were this way; but the % of hard to easy was WAY on the hard side. These kids weren’t use to discipline, order, and structure; and they bucked like wild horses at anything that wasn’t their idea. It was during this season that I learned how to organize classrooms, orchestrate services, and arrange check-ins areas that would become staples of my style today. In hindsight I didn’t always appreciate those moments at the time, but now I can say that I count it all joy to have been through those experiences.
As I listen to staff, volunteers, and parents bemoan the troubles of certain ‘trouble’ kids around them I feel that they may be missing some great opportunities. We have been assured that in this world we will experience trouble, so it’s high time some teachers get over themselves and see these kids the way God sees them. It’s time that we all begin to see these kids as challenges to overcome, and less as obstacles to get around. And trust me, I’m talking to myself as much as to anyone who might be reading!

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Lisa · August 27, 2008

    Wise words… And I’ve been there, too (in child care centers). The kids I remember most vividly are definitely the most difficult, often because their situations broke my heart. I still pray for some of those kids today. In your situation, at least those parents were bringing them to church!

  2. Samuel · August 28, 2008

    Great post Jonathan. It is very hard to look at that way when they are splashing toilet water on each other or shooting you with pea shooters. Thanks for the WWJD kick in the butt.

  3. Gina McClain · August 29, 2008

    This post speaks volumes to me. Even now I’m leading a team of volunteers through similar circumstances. Keeping the kid the focus is what makes the ministry special… personal. Thanks for the confirmation.