When my son was young, about 12 years old, we gave him the coveted compound bow he had been pressing us to get him. On his birthday, he ripped open the package, promptly ran outside to set up a target and began practicing. He had been outside for a couple of hours, learning the ins and outs of handling the bow and how to shoot the arrows to the exact spot he intended.
I stepped outside to take out the trash, when he yelled for my attention. “Mom, want to come try the bow?” Knowing that aim was not my forte, I waffled, finally giving in so that I wouldn’t dampen his excitement. Setting the target and coaching me on hand placement, stance and arrow release, he commanded me to shoot. Which I did, but where did the arrow go?
A quick survey of the surrounding yard, found it quite a distance away but nowhere near the target. And, fortunately, far away from our other kids who had been watching and were now laughing hysterically! Needless to say, he never asked me to try shooting his bow again. Accurately aiming was not a skill I possessed.
Reading through Psalms, I recently came across Psalm 127:3-4.
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
Those verses impact how we parent, teach and cast God’s vision for our kids if we want to raise them to make a difference for God’s kingdom. Will we (like I did) randomly shoot and hope they land somewhere close to God’s plan? Or will we spend this coming year honing our skills and weighing our priorities to raise kids focused on God’s target of bringing the lost to himself?
Here are three areas I see where we as parents/grandparents/teachers often neglect prioritizing with our kids:
- Strong relationship with God – Do you know where your child’s relationship stands with God? It isn’t anything you can or should force, but you can bring God into the conversation with daily issues and needs, regularly encouraging them to develop their relationship with God by releasing them to pray and prioritize God’s Word. Overcome your hesitancy to address spiritual issues and open the door for them to understand their faith.
- Develop compassion— Reaching the lost will require compassion, not anger or refusal to interact with them. Age and development will determine how you teach being “in the world” but not “of it.” How they respond to a bully or selfishness in themselves or others will involve skills that prepare them for Kingdom work. Create times your kids can interact with those who are different from themselves. Nursing home visits, regular interaction with multiple ethnicities or multi-generational gatherings will help them learn to be comfortable with others who are different.
- Wider Focus—Give them a wider sense of the world God has placed them into. Keep a map or globe of the world handy and refer to it often. Pray together as a family for missionaries you or your church support. Correspond or video chat with friends you may have internationally. Locate the place where international news is occurring, talk about their needs and pray. We have a resource that may help as well.
God’s grace covers those mistakes or lapses on our part, but grab your bow and take aim.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them (children)! Psalm 127:5