At The Nest, we spend a lot of time in the word of God.  If you’ve ever been inside The Nest, you’ll know that there are little scriptures and biblical aphorisms posted everywhere.  We attempt to make sure all of our conversations are seasoned with grace.  There are little stacks of devotional books everywhere.  We read them with the residents over dinner, and the staff continually sharpens each other in the way that Ephesians 5:19 encourages us to speak to each other: through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  During our staff devotions, we talk from time to time about the concept of servant leadership and what it means to us as a team as we provide guidance for the young women who are entrusted to us. In 1 Peter 5:1-7, there is a passage that offers instructions on how to guard and guide a flock with humility and servitude.  It says:

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 5 In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 

In another passage found in Matthew 18:1-6, Jesus offers additional caution to those who mistreat the little ones entrusted to their care.

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. 6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

We realize the gravity of the charge:  God trusts us to care for the hearts, minds, and souls of the little ones He sends to The Sparrow’s Nest.  Yes, we realize that they are already mommas.  Yes, they are often already living adult lives.  And yes, they also often have sassy mouths and tough attitudes.  But in many ways, they are still little girls in their heads and hearts because of the heartbreaks they’ve experienced throughout their lives.  Many of our residents have lived through tough times that have left God-sized holes in their hearts.

We realize that God now looks at us, both individually as well as us as an organization, and He says: “You.  I trust you.  I trust you to make this right for them.” So we—with our brokenness covered by His grace and guidance—get to double down on love, respect, nurturing, discipleship, development, support, celebration, and instruction along with all the other things that make successful human beings.  Because of the structure of our program, we have just 365 days to do it (if our residents choose to remain with us for the entire year).

As a team, we believe there are things that make a difference in who we are and how we shepherd our residents during the time they are with us.  In everything we do, we choose to operate as servant leaders.  We listen and love.  We know that it’s not about us. We see leadership as an opportunity to serve our residents.  We disciple our residents like every day is their last with us, such that at the very least, they leave us with a sprinkle of Jesus.  We share celebrations.  We seek out moments of joy, laughter, grace, and forgiveness.  We believe in the promise of sunshine and the power of prayer.  Lastly, we wrap everything we do with help and healing, and we hope that one year with us is the catalyst for a lifetime of change.