Someone once told me that little children= little problems, big children= bigger problems. Having small children at the time I thought, “Yeah right! You don’t know my two.” My problems were big, my daughter ruled the roost with her strong willed personality, my son was sick all the time and couldn’t keep any food down, and I felt like a single parent. I couldn’t control a thing.
Now that my two are older, the trouble of a strong will has been replaced by bigger, deeper struggles. Finding identity in Christ and learning how to navigate tough worldly issues is now the focus of our conversations. All consuming health issues with my son has been replaced with battles of anxiety and fear. I would say our problems were big then and they are still big now.
As they grow older I find myself asking how I can help them navigate these harder issues with the confidence that God by their side. What grows a child’s heart to lean toward God? Is this something we can influence as mom’s or is it completely prewired in their personalities to believe and live for the Lord? Ministry life, with all of its demands, can both help and hinder this lesson. God’s word is for everyone and everyone can know God’s word.
While there is no perfect formula to guarantee their choice to follow God, there ARE certain things we can do to create an atmosphere that cultivates a heart for God.
- Include in ministry and make it personal. Children that are included in the workings of the ministry feel more ownership to it and tend to be more sensitive to its demands. My husband regularly asked if the kids wanted to go on shopping trips for youth supplies. He asked my daughter often to help organize or think of ideas that would be fun activities. Bringing them into the work we do helps them to see the value in it and THAT is what broadens their perspective and eternal focus.
- Keep your priorities straight! Children are keen observers when it comes to words matching up with actions. We are only fooling ourselves if we think they will believe our words when they are not backed by our actions. Do you believe the work you are doing in your ministry is important? Do you truly believe it is a privilege to be serving in the unique calling God has put you in? Do your words, actions, and decisions match? Are you enjoying the work or begrudgingly checking it off your list? Are you constantly breathing heavy and sighing loudly after talking to someone or do you talk about grace and patience? Priorities must be lived out!
- Broaden their horizons. Consider missions as a family. We had the opportunity to take our children to Chile to serve with Dad as a youth conference speaker. Taking them outside the country, to another culture, to another belief system opened their eyes and their hearts to how BIG our God is! Their hearts will lean into God when they see a big world and ALL the people that Jesus died for. Children understand the world in front of them. It is our job to walk with the Spirit and faithfully expose them to world missions! They will forever be changed!
Cultivating a heart for God is tough stuff sometimes, especially with all we are up against. Time with your children, being available, being authentic, broadening their horizons, and welcoming them into ministry with you is a start to equipping them with a heart that leans into God!