But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
God wouldn’t allow Jeremiah to use his youth as an excuse not to go and serve others, so we shouldn’t put age limits on our children’s abilities to serve, either. There isn’t a perfect age at which we become useful to God. There isn’t a switch in our spirit that gets moved to “active” when we reach adulthood. It is our job as their parents to show them the importance of ministry.
Even before our kids are in school, they learn from and mimic their parents. Because of their ability to soak up everything and emulate behaviors, this is a great time to introduce our children to local outreach! As we hand out food or host community events at our churches, our children see us giving. They see us do deeds for the glory of God. They see the smiles of blessing on the faces of those who receive, but they also see the joy and fulfillment of serving. We may not be able to bring our babies and toddlers to every event, but choosing to carry them with you as you serve can help plant a seed of giving that will only grow as they become more and more involved.
God’s children span the globe – it is vital that we introduce our children to other cultures and people groups. Introducing games and programs that incorporate multiple languages and/or cultural traditions are a great place to start with our tiny ones. You can also get the entire family involved in the discovery of the beautiful similarities and differences in culture across the globe. Most cities host several annual festivals focusing on cultural education and celebration. These events can be informative and serve as a fun outing for everyone. There are also ministries, like Compassion, that give individuals and families the opportunity to support children in other nations. Encouraging a curiosity and appreciation of different cultures can open the door to a future in travel and missions. It can begin to ignite a passion for places and people all over the world!
As our kids get closer to double digits and older, we, as families, can expand our mission field. So many organizations offer domestic and international missions trips that are family friendly. There are also numerous options for the focus and content of the trip. Kids can participate in sports, music, drama, and so many other ministries that may coincide with the interests they pursue daily. The possibilities are vast and exciting!
I think we owe it to our children to let them explore the world. However, we can always start small – we don’t need to have the resources to take them across oceans or even across the country, but taking them over a state line can do a lot. Hey, they’re only a few footsteps out the door or a state away!
Every child has the calling to be a servant of others for God. Not one of our little ones is exempt from the calling to be a blessing to others. It is our job to focus on the diversity of culture and tradition, and the identical love we are all given from our Heavenly Father. As we parent our children, it is our job to help show them how God sees us: a gorgeous creation that He loves so much. We do this with a hope that they will want to show God’s love to everyone and faith in the fact that God has a specific plan for them that just might take them into all the world.
Featured photo by Lauren from Tippee Canoe