I remember hearing a preacher, who was struggling in the ministry, say that he sure hoped that none of his children would be in the ministry when they grew up. He said that he loved them too much to want them to have that much heartache. I have never forgotten what he said, and I don’t know if that was really what he felt or if that was discouragement talking.
Now that I have 6 beautiful children, have been a Pastor’s wife for almost 10 years, and have experienced seasons of encouragement and discouragement, the words from this man have played in my head. Do I want my kids to serve Jesus with all their hearts, souls and minds when they grow up? Maybe even giving their entire life and time to the work of God?
I have this philosophy about kids. I try to treat them now like I would when they grow up. I try to respect them like I want respected. I don’t pick on them just to watch them get mad. I don’t talk smart to them and make fun of them. I don’t call them names. I value their opinions (even if I have to make a “mom” decision that they don’t agree with). I like to play around with them but when they are ready to stop, I respect them and stop.
The flip side of that, is that while allowing them to be children, I want them to nurture the habits of life now that they will need to have as an adult without a mommy telling them how to breathe. I encourage them to do what they want in the kitchen to learn to cook (as long as they clean it back up), the 3 oldest already take care of their own laundry, all of them put sheets on the bed and pick up their own clothes, and they get told once to wake up in the mornings or they will miss out on the next planned activity ( which is breakfast). They each have daily chores that belong to them and they are expected to get them done without arguing or they earn an extra chore.
I do all of this because I feel that if they get the honor and respect of being treated like an important member of this family ( and they are SO important to me), then they have an obligation to be important and to do their part.
What does this have to do with serving Jesus? Because I don’t want my kids to have to learn everything once they grow up – physically or spiritually. I don’t want my kids to serve Jesus just when they grow up. I want them to serve Jesus now! Jesus loves them now. Jesus thinks they are valuable now. Jesus has a plan for them now. Jesus thinks they are precious and they are important to Him now. I don’t want my children to freely accept all of that and be spoiled by it. I want them to feel that love and I want them to give back. Serving always negates selfishness and I want them to learn that now!
I will be thrilled if my children will serve Jesus with their lives someday in the future. But I am much more concerned that they are serving Jesus in their lives right now. They will face heartache and discouragement, and my children already have in their young lives, but there will be no greater Friend walking through those times with them then the One I want them to know how turn to and depend on from the time they are young.