Confessions of a Craftily Challenged VBS teacher

Crafting

I like to refer to myself as “craftily challenged.” Hallmarks of this disease are coloring outside the lines, cutting unevenly, gluing messily and other things you should’ve learned in kindergarten. Not because you’re personality is free and unfettered, but because that line is always a lot closer than it looks.

It’s a disability I’m learning to live with.

When I was growing up my mom was a kindergarten teacher and active in kids’ ministry at church. I’m now a member of the LifeWay VBS team. Does irony speak to you like it does to me?

You know you might be craftily challenged when:

  • You’re sitting with your teaching assistant at church decorating your VBS classroom and there are shapes to be cut out. You and he or she have the same kind of scissors and are cutting out of the same material, but where his or her lines are perfectly straight, yours are crooked and jagged.
  • You’re trying to freehand a roller coaster on paper on your wall and when you check in on your neighbor, theirs looks like a roller coaster. Yours looks like spaghetti.
  • You see this cute thing someone made from Pinterest, so you go find the pin, repin it, try to make it, and can’t even tell the finished product is the same craft.

Anyone else with me?

Yep. Join the club. You’re not alone. And fortunately, there’s help, so don’t think you can’t work with decorating or crafts at VBS just because you don’t think of yourself as skilled at it. Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned during my uncrafty sojourn in a crafty world.

Don’t put yourself down or say you’re not creative. I firmly believe that everyone has their own type of creativity. It may take some creativity just to find out what that is for you, but it’s there and you can use it for VBS, even if you won’t be using it to create a fully- functional roller coaster car from spare pieces of wood.

Don’t compare yourself- This is the hardest one for me, but it’s huge. When I’m nervous because I’m trying to be the best, the lines I cut turn out wavier as a general rule. Also, my inability to draw or cut a straight line does not make me a less worthwhile teacher. Psalm 62:7 says “My salvation and glory depend on God.” It doesn’t say anything about that glory or self-worth depending on how I measure up to my VBS classroom neighbor. I can’t tell you how many unnecessary arguments I’ve witnessed that were really the result of insecurity and comparison in a variety of situations. I’m ashamed to say I’ve been part of some of them. When we try to measure up without God’s help, we have to constantly guard our worth, which we often end up doing with anger, frustration, and without sensitivity to others’ insecurities. Remember as you decorate that what you’re doing is to impact kids and worship God, not to win you a “best decorated room” award.

Surround yourself with help- If you’re secure enough to admit you’re not great with crafts, then (hopefully) you’re secure enough to ask for help. I personally try not to let myself get roped into a role where I’m a leader over something crafty like the Worship Rally decorations or the crafts rotation, but if you find yourself there without the skill, find helpers! Assistants who are good with crafts could probably use your good leadership over them. If you’re just concerned with your Bible study room, as I usually am, there’s always someone decorating their own room who will probably gladly help you. If you’d like to borrow my mom, I believe I’ve mentioned she’s really great at this stuff. It takes pride swallowing, but asking for help is a good idea.

Find premade stuff-  There’s nothing wrong with making decorations and crafts easier on yourself if you don’t love them so that you’ll have more energy for the most important spiritual moments of VBS. Check out some options we offer here with awesome backdrops that can be customized to fit your size space, as well as table cloths, string flags and table toppers. For crafts that come with all the parts and just need assembly, click here.

Practice! Have you ever watched a child in your ministry, or your family, get discouraged because they don’t have the coordination for controlling a yo-yo or cutting out shapes? If they stayed discouraged and refused to do it, they’d never develop the coordination, would they? Be patient with yourself like you would with that kid and allow yourself space for mistakes as you practice and improve. I think a lot of my lack of skill is that I was such a perfectionist growing up (still often am) that I wouldn’t practice or try a second time something I wasn’t good at on my first try.

Give yourself some credit- If you’re a perfectionist like me, you want everything to look just perfect. I wind up obsessing over how bad little details look, when the big picture actually looks a lot better than I thought.

Find a different job- it’s ok to look for jobs that utilize your skills and strengths. After all, God gave you your strengths and weaknesses for a reason Sometimes it’s so He can shine through your weakness. Sometimes it’s so you can glorify Him with the strengths He gave you. If you can, tell your VBS Director that you’d be more comfortable doing something that doesn’t involve hand-eye coordination and offer to help with registration, making snacks, or teaching Bible study (with an assistant to help decorate.) You can’t always avoid working with your hands, but you can try to work into your strengths whenever possible.

Get some perspective- when you take a step back from VBS to look at its purpose, the purpose is not to have a fully functional theme park in action in your church (though that makes it a ton of fun!). The purpose is to share Jesus with your kids and help them know Him. One year when I was freaking out about whether my room would be cool looking or not, my mom-the-crafty (who also had the classroom next door unfortunately) interrupted my worries with the absolutely true fact that kids will not remember the decorations in the room in the same way that they will remember being loved, spending time with you, and the words and actions you give them that show them who Jesus is.

So uncrafty people unite! What tips would you add to these? What jobs can you do to help the more crafty people in your world.

Comments

  1. Nancy says

    Take yourself off the hook. Don’t look at decorating as competition with others. Give yourself permission to keep room decor simple and easy. My church does a great job with the worship rally and snacks areas. The really crafty folks go big in these two areas, while the teachers feel comfortable with maybe the backdrops that you can purchase from Lifeway, or other simple decor idea. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself, relax and enjoy!

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