From a young age, children view their caregivers as representatives of God. The way in which we live our lives and engage with our children exemplifies for them who God is. As we show them love, they will see God as a loving God. As we show them fairness, they will see God as a just God. The same can be applied to who is present in the lives of our children based on gender. Take a walk down the hallway of your classrooms. Who do you see teaching and guiding the children? Although there are exceptions, like Charlie Ludden, who is in ministry with children in the Oklahoma Annual Conference, most teachers of children in our congregations are women. Women more often serve as nurturers and caregivers, but we sometimes forget that loving others is not gender specific. Children not only enjoy being in relationship with men, they need to see men in the role of nurturer.
Statistically speaking, the absence of strong male role models in the lives of children is linked to the rise in the number of children living in poverty, rise in the frequency of children committing crimes at a younger age, and a higher dropout rate in public schools. Although a great deal of the research is in the area of fathers, what could this mean in light of the Baptismal Covenant? What is the responsibility of men in being involved in the lives of children in the congregation and the community?
When we welcome a person into the community through the Baptismal Covenant, we promise to “be living witnesses to the gospel, individually and together, wherever [we] are, and in all that [we] do… and to nurture one another in living the faith of the church and include [the individual] in [our] care”. This is not a promise reserved for fathers or mothers, women or men, pastors or laity. It is a promise made by each of us adopted into the body of Christ through our Baptism. Nurture is an integral part of this promise.
So, tell me guys… are you ready to nurture?