Recently heard a story from a proud grandfather. His 14-month-old grandson, I’ll call him James, had recently learned to put sentences together, and when Grandpa flew back to visit, the first words out of James’ mouth were, "How are you today?"
The grandfather was surprised and asked his daughter about it. She explained, "Well, so many people today think of themselves first…and sometimes only. But Jesus put others first. I want James to learn to do that, too, so I’m teaching him that he should begin his conversations with others by demonstrating an interest in them."
I was recently reflecting on a particularly difficult period of my life, a time when my wife, Barb, and I were going through an intense trial.
At the time, my reflexive reaction was, “What is this? Why me, Lord? How come this is happening to us?” But almost instantaneously a scripture entered my thoughts: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” A sense of calm and peace settled over me.
At my moment of intense need, Romans 8:28 had washed over my mind.
Humans have a natural proclivity for creating a routine. Once we find something that works, we tend to do it over and over again.
This concept applies to parenting. Regardless of how many children are in the family, it is easier to adopt a one-size-fits-all strategy to parenting. We may think, “I tried this approach with my firstborn and it worked, so now I’ll try that with every other child in the family.”
People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:15-16).
In Luke’s story of Jesus blessing the little children, what always catches my eye is that Jesus actively called little children to come to him. Interestingly, his own disciples are opposed to the idea.
I waited anxiously for my father to come home. I was 11 years old at the time, and I knew he’d be home in a few minutes. Dad always came home within the same 15-minute window, and he always had the same routine. He would walk through the open door, hug each of his kids, and then go find mom. When he saw her, he engaged in “gooey” talk about how much he loved her.
I have received many gifts in my life. Some were precisely what I had hoped for, while others were a disappointment. Some of them required assembly, a good deal more work than I would have liked. Some of the gifts were worth the trouble; some were not.
There is one gift, however, a gift from God, that is always worth it. "Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him," we’re told in Psalm 127:3.
As parents or even grandparents, how do we respond to the gifts from God that are our children?
Most Christian parents want nothing more than for their children to know Jesus Christ. For years I read several scriptural passages that informed my approach to parenting. For example, Deuteronomy 6:7, in the context of the commandments that God gave to the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt, says “Impress them [the commandments] on your children.
Children are a blessing from the Lord.
With these blessings also come responsibilities. As stewards of God's children,
parents are responsible for helping children grow physically, intellectually,
emotionally and spiritually. Churches have a responsibility toward children,
too. We want to provide an environment in which children are safe, are taught
at an age-appropriate level, and are encouraged to develop a relationship with
n the previous article, we discussed the pressing need
to make ministry to children a priority in our congregations and homes. This
series is designed to help equip us to do just that. Whether you are a pastor,
children’s ministry leader or worker, parent, grandparent, or other adult or
teen who is concerned about children, this column is for you. Please join me in
praying that God will use it to advance ministry to children in the —all to the
glory of our Lord.