Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Like most folks, I was saddened to hear of the passing of the "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin. He was a conservationist and entertainer and educator who brought many hours of enjoyment into our home. I do not know where Mr. Irwin stood on matters of faith, but there is no denying his contribution to our world.

As I was reflecting on Steve Irwin's impact, I remembered that I had often used the "Crocodile Hunter" as an illustration of qualities we look for in children's ministers. See if these thing aren't at least a little true.

1. The "Crocodile Hunter" was passionate about his mission. Wherever he went, he threw his own self into teaching and begging and persuading folks to care about all animals. As a children's worker, I need to be passionate about what I do...with every fiber of my being.

2. The "Crocodile Hunter" was realistic about the dangers, but dove in anyway! Many times, Mr. Irwin would talk about how a particular snake was the deadliest of them all, with twelve inch fangs that could pierce a concrete block and a body that could crush a sumo wrestler. Getting near this snake was full of danger...danger...danger. And then, with an impish grin, he said, "I can hardly wait!"
Let's face it, children's ministry is not that dangerous. But there are challenges that many sophisticated adults don't want to undertake. Kids can be loud, messy, uncouth, and uninhibited. So let's jump in, shall we?

3. The "Crocodile Hunter" immersed himself in the environment of the animals. He got down on his belly. He climbed up in the tree. He moved like an animal. He could have commented on the animal world like an outside expert. Instead, he got in there and related to the creatures he dealt with.
As a children's worker, I can't afford to stand off disconected to the kids I work with. I need to relate to them. I need to listen to their music and understand their tv shows and immerse myself in their culture.

4. The "Crocodile Hunter" was in control and had an aim. Although it seemed at times that Steve Irwin had a careless disregard for his own safety, he was always keenly aware that he was the human with the strategy to rescue the animal in question. Every movement, every action was a result of planning and experience.
As much as I immerse myself in the culture of the children, I need to always be aware that I am the grownup. The love of Christ compels me to reach these kids with the gospel. So what I do "kid wise", I do with the aim of eternity.

5. The "Crocodile Hunter" had a support network. While we most often saw his wife Terri, other programs revealed a group of co-workers who shared Steve's passion and enthusiasm and who were ready to jump in at a moment's notice to help carry out the mission.
There is no underestimating the importance of a network of support. Obviously, one's family is on the front lines. But co-laborers, fellow servants who can help bear burdens and step in as needed, are invaluable.

6. The "Crocodile Hunter" had enthusiastic fun. There was no question that Steve Irwin enjoyed what he did. It wasn't a chore, he didn't get stuck with it.
Am I serving because its my turn? Am I counting the minutes before the final illustration, hoping the senior pastor doesn't go over time? Or am I having a blast, with as much fun and enthusiasm as the kids?

There are probably more comparisons, but I think you get the point. Children's ministry is perhaps the highest calling a servant can have. It's full of joy, but it's not for the timid. Let's make an effort by God's grace to have some "Crocodile Hunter" qualities.

I can hardly wait!