Welcome back to the Social Nanny and our last segment of our talk on relationships and representation. We’ve been talking through the story of Samuel in the Bible and how Elkanah and Hannah modeled relationships between caregivers and families. Our first point was acknowledging God, and our second point was that we need to be faithful in all areas of our lives. Today, we pick up with the third point: how the caregiver ties into all of this.
In this last point, the Lord showed me Eli. Eli was the priest who took over for caring for Samuel when Hannah brought him to the temple. To me, Eli represents a caregiver. He wasn’t Samuel’s father, but he took care of him just like a father would and raised him in the way that his parents would have raised him.
If you are a caregiver, you know how this is: the kids that you care for become like your own. You love them, care for them, and would literally give your life for them. You become their defender, their confidant, their cheerleader, and their voice of reason/discipline. You also become an extension of their parents, and you feel the responsibility to raise them as their parents would. Here are some tips to be able to partner seamlessly with the family that God has placed you in.
Place God at the center
Yes, this seems to be my first tip in every single thing. But it is SO important to do, and I know from experience, that sometimes it is easy to lose sight of this. The Bible tells us to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things will be added unto us (Matthew 6:33). Keep a personal devotion with Jesus, encourage yourself in the Word, pray for the families that you partner with. Ask God for protection over you and the kids, and acknowledge Him always in front of the kids you watch. Listen to the Spirit and follow His leading, even when it may not make sense in your mind. Stay humble, stay pure, and stay vigilant.
This is another huge point; make sure that your lines of communication are super open with both parents and kids. Ask parents what their expectations are and do your utmost to hold yourself to those expectations. If applicable, also let the kids know what the expectations or boundaries are and what you are comfortable with doing within those boundaries. If you are unsure, ask questions and get some clarity. If you are unable to meet expectations, let the parents or guardians know. Give updates, ask questions, have fun, and be reliable in your communication. Remember: this is a task asked of you, but you are still interacting with people. Make sure that your communication is always polite but personal.
This applies to a lot of different areas. Be patient with the kids that you watch; they are still learning, as are you. Be gracious and kind, forgiving them just like Jesus has forgiven you (Eph. 4:32). Be patient with parents/guardians. Parents have the biggest responsibilities and their kids are their most precious commodity. Imagine leaving your greatest pride and joy in the hands of another… it’ll help ya give some grace where and if it is needed.
I think the biggest area that we can apply this to, however, is ourselves. I know that as a caregiver myself, I want to be the best at what I do. I want to honor God, honor the families that I work with, keep a pristine appearance and house, and be able to give my undivided and patient attention to all that come to me for help. I know this is not my reality at ALL. Sometimes, I’m tired and snappy. Sometimes, I forget to communicate. Other times I leave a huge mess everywhere. But remember this: God can use you even when you mess up. He used Eli, and if He used Eli, He can use you. Just be sure that in ALL things, you are doing everything as unto the Lord and not unto men (Col. 3:23).
Now let’s put this all together. God blessed Hannah with a son. Hannah knew from the beginning that Samuel would serve the Lord. I believe that in the time that Hannah had him at home, she was speaking life and purpose into her baby. She was praying over him, thanking God for him, and telling him of the great God that He would serve. Like in Joshua 24:15, she was declaring that she and her household would serve the Lord. And serve the Lord Samuel did! Samuel grew up to be one of the greatest prophets in history.
We can learn so much from Hannah. Her faithfulness, her dedication to the Lord, and how she watched her words. As parents and caregivers alike, what we speak to and about our children, even when they are not present to hear the words, are vital. If we speak life, we plant and reap life. If we speak death, we plant and reap death. Her words helped to mold Samuel’s destiny and he followed the Lord his whole life because of her.
God also established Eli in Samuel’s life. I find it interesting that Eli was chosen to help raise Samuel because his own children, who were both priests in the house of the Lord, were not the best example. The Bible says that they would steal the sacrifices that people brought to offer the Lord, which to me is unthinkable! How would Samuel be able to be brought up in a way that would honor God if he had these examples around him? And even though Eli honored the Lord, his sons did not. How was Eli chosen to be a fitting caregiver for Samuel? I believe that it goes back to Hannah.
We as caregivers LOVE children. We believe that God has put us on this earth to care for His kiddos and to help guide them along the path of righteousness. But I believe that parents can instill more into their children than a caregiver ever can, no matter the length of time that they are with the caregiver. Eli was able to care for Samuel and pull out the things that had been placed in him by his parents. Because Eli also feared the Lord, even though he was not perfect, he was able to guide him along the path that God had for his life.
Together, parents and caregivers can create a super strong team. And when God is at the forefront of these relationships, you can never fail.