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Never Looking Back

Never Looking Back

On her office phone, Jazmin dials the number of the next health insurance agency on her list. The list contains agencies that have been avoiding payment to the home health aid company she works for. When they say they never received a bill, Jazmin, a billing manager, sternly replies, “I have proof you got it. I [have records of] everything.” She waits for the words, “Alright. We’ll get it to you,” before exultantly ending the call.

Within her company, Jazmin has developed a good reputation for her drive for tasks like hunting down payments. “Just watch me work,” she says, “I’m competitive. I like challenges.” It’s a trait she has had since she was young. Describing herself growing up, she says “I was kind of serious, in a way.”

So when a friend approached her about five years ago and asked if she’d be interested in leading worship for kids and teaching a kindergarten class during weekend services at Grace Kids, her knee-jerk reaction was to laugh inside. “I’m more like [the type to] work in an ER department, not teach four, five and six year olds!” she says.

But when she thought deeper about it, and remembered her experience with kids in her own family, she couldn’t find a good reason not to at least try it out. “I’d been around kids my whole life,” says Jazmin, “I’d had nieces and a nephew. I’d helped with my nieces since I was 13. I love little kids!” Plus, she had always loved music and knew she wanted to sing: “I was like, ‘Well, that will be a cool way to do worship. That should be fun!'”

She wasn’t sure how well she would do in a teaching role at Grace Kids, but in typical Jazmin fashion, she took on the challenge with vigor. To her surprise, her strong leadership skills and drive would end up being a big asset to the team. It turns out, she was adept at helping other team members stay focused and motivated, and her high-energy personality came in handy in a room full of excited children. “I just kind of fell in love with it,” says Jazmin.

With each week, Jazmin began to see a different side of herself emerge, one much less serious and much more spontaneous and silly. “I definitely am a kid when it comes to working with those kids. You watch these kids, and you see them get excited about the word,” she says, “Even if you see a kid not really grasping it, all of the sudden I’m thinking of rhymes in my head, and I’m thinking of songs in my head, and that’s how they remember it. I never thought I’d be able to do that.”

Grace Kids leaders started noticing Jazmin’s impact on kids and her leadership strengths, and soon promoted her to the role of team leader, but she fondly describes the moment she herself realized the impact she was having on kids: “Normally, when kids come in for the first time, they’re crying, they’re falling down. Some don’t want to leave their parents. Then, at the end of the class, they wouldn’t want to leave the class. One of the little girls who used to be apprehensive with coming in got to the point where she would just jump from her mom into my arms and laugh about it. That’s when I was like, ‘I might be actually good at this.’ Not only did they not die,” she laughs, “But they liked it!”

She continues, “Even when I wasn’t serving as a teacher at that time, I would have groups of kids just sprinting up and giving me hugs or grabbing my leg. They remembered who I was, even though I wasn’t in a teaching shirt. That was pretty cool. It’s definitely making an impact.”

About a year ago, she began to realize that her serving wasn’t just affecting kids’ lives, it was affecting her own life as well—particularly at work. While Jazmin had always had a reputation for being a hard worker at her company, she had also developed a reputation for having a hair trigger. “I was known as the hothead in the office. If people talked about me,” she claps her hands emphatically, “It was kind of like, ‘WHO ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!'”

But she was starting to notice that she no longer felt justified for clapping back at her coworkers. “Serving with the kids, it kind of puts you in check.” She says, “They look at you as a version of yourself that maybe you don’t feel about yourself at that time. You’re like, ‘Okay, now I have this impressionable child in front of me. What kind of impression am I leaving on this kid?’ I don’t want him or her to feel like Jesus hates him because they see anger coming from me.”

“And then it’s bled out to work,” Jazmin continues, “Because now it’s not just a kid that I’m making an impression on. It’s adults. I call myself a christian, I say I follow Jesus, but are my actions really following Jesus? If my coworker is aggressive to me, every instinct in my body is like, ‘Who are you talking to?’ But you got to humble yourself because if they’re looking at me and they know I’m a follower of Jesus, what makes me think that they’re going to come to church if a negative person is who they see?”

“I tell them, ‘I’ll pray for you, I’ll pray with you, whatever you need,'” says Jazmin, “And three weeks, ago, one of my coworkers came into my office looking upset. She was like, ‘I’m really upset. Can you just come into my office and give me some of them positive words you always do?’ So that was really cool to see it bleed out, to see that [I’m now known] as the ‘She’s a positive person, and if you’re having a bad day, go and talk to Jaz.’ That was kind of like, aw, it’s working.”

Today, Jazmin is now part of the worship team that leads worship in the auditorium during weekend services, as well. It is a dream come true for someone who had long wanted to be a part of the team and has sung her whole life, but she makes it clear that her passion still lies strongest with Grace Kids. While she maintains a healthy balance between the two areas of her life, she says that even in a hypothetical scenario, she would never step back from Grace Kids for the sake of the worship team.

“No. No. I would never.” she says, “I would rather take time off from the worship team if I had to, before I would take time off from Grace Kids. Working with those kids, you get to see them learn things, you get to actually witness their love for Jesus. That’s better than anything you could ever offer me. Probably one of the best feelings in the world is working with those kids.”

Interested in learning about our different service teams at Grace Church? Check out our list of teams here to get more information about them!