If you took the biblical story of the “Good Samaritan” and told it as a “wild western” adventure, you might say that the Samaritan was God’s partner in rescuing the poor man who was robbed. God had “Sam” in place to demonstrate character traits of compassion for the unfortunate victim and courage to do something dangerous to help him out of his dilemma.
Might we conclude that if we let our children partner with us in meaningful work for God, they will develop compassion and courage, two major assets in our life of faith and obedience to God? Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, “May God our Father inspire you with courage and confidence in every good thing you say and do.” (II Thess. 2:16, 17) The underlying premise here is that we don’t have to hold kids back; they must not wait until they grow up to serve God in meaningful ways.
Very good reason exists for teaming courage with compassion. Having enough confidence in God to be bold makes it easier to turn apathy or pity into Spirit directed action that makes a difference. Seeing our world from God’s point of view, experiencing His loving heart for us and for others, gives godly substance for our taking risks to change things. Simply put, these two provide motivation for Christian action in our world.
Books, articles, curriculum materials are available today to show us how to incorporate this into our disciple-building with children. For the naturally shy child, it may be important to emphasize the nature and extent of God’s ability to supply strength and protection when He asks us to take risks by serving others. For the naturally bold, high energy child, it may be important to emphasize the nature and extent of God’s loving heart that asks us to step into needy places and bring His love to others.
Here is a sampling of ideas to implement this. You’ll have more to add. Kids love to explore. Why not take that natural inclination and show them how to do prayer walking? Start with places around the church building, or the home, or even the school. Move up to prayer walking neighborhoods and shopping malls. Kids have special talents and interests. Why not help them think of ways they can share these with others as a means of cheering up the lonely, or bringing good news to the poor. Kids must learn how to handle money in a Christ-honoring way. Let them explore ways to earn money, not only for their own “wish lists” but for investing in God’s Kingdom. Kids blossom spiritually when they learn to be generous. One example: the girl who asks the guests at her birthday party to bring stuffed animals in place of gifts for herself. She then sends the toys to an orphanage.
Let’s continue to focus on the potential wrapped up in our children. Let’s not keep them diddling along the sidelines, waiting to grow up, but rather find age appropriate ways to make them full partners with us for the glory of God and HIS Kingdom business today, even as they prepare to serve Him all the rest of their lives.
As always your comments and ideas are welcome.