Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:13-14
I love kids! I love my own girls. I love my nephews. I love my cousins' kids. I love the kids at our church. I love the kids at the park. I love the orphans and children who are living in under-developed nations; when I see their saddened faces on TV, my heart melts.
But sometimes, I love myself more than I love the kids.
Yes, I said it out loud and now I am so convicted!
Sometimes I am so much like the disciples - too busy with my own 'adult' activities to have time to encourage and mentor children. I am selfish with my time, my stuff, and my schedule. I am not speaking about my own daughters, but the other children the Lord has in my sphere of influence. You know, all those kids I mentioned above; the ones I love.
Die to self. Die to self.
So I have been thinking and praying about how I can be a godly influence on these kids and be a picture of Jesus. I need to look for opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus with children other than my own.
Here is a list of ideas for both you and I to influence and mentor the youth that Christ has brought into our lives - and even some ways to bring more youngsters into our lives. The more the better, eh?
If you have a baby in your house and you take that baby to church, I am sure the tween and teen girls flock to your side. Babies are a magnet to these girls. God has given women (in general) the instinct to care for babies. Have you considered asking one or two of these ladies to be "Mommy's Helpers"? I hadn't heard of this until I had our last baby. Unfortunately, she was a sick, unhappy, fussy baby, or else I would have been all over it! You can ask a tween or teen to spend time with you one day a week for a few hours and they care for the baby.
This has so many benefits. It allows some time for you to do other things around the house and gives them time to love on your child. It also creates a bond between the baby and the girl. God could use this bond as your child grows and this young girl also grows into a young woman. It also creates a fantastic opportunity for you to get to know this girl and be a mentor. If she is not saved, it is an opportunity to share the gospel.
Sponsoring a Child
Compassion International (and other impoverished child organizations may be the same way, I just chose this one to talk about) is a way of not only providing physical needs for a child in an underdeveloped nation, they also will hear the Good News of Jesus. From their website, it says, "Compassion focuses on the spiritual, physical, economic and social needs of children in poverty. Our Christian holistic child development program is:
- Christ Centered. Jesus is at the heart of Compassion's ministry and each child has the opportunity to hear the gospel in an age-appropriate and culturally relevant way.
- Child Focused. Compassion focuses on the individual child and his or her development. A transformed child will inevitably change his or her environment.
- Church Based. The Church is God's chosen instrument to bring hope and deliver justice to the poor and oppressed. Compassion partners with local Christian churches to equip them for ministry to children.
- Committed to Integrity. We're dedicated to delivering excellent programs with complete integrity.
I think every church has a need for more volunteers in their Children's Ministry department - that could be the nursery, toddler room, preK, Elementary age, or even helping with the Teens. I love getting to know the children at our church better by serving them on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. This is a great way to find out if they have a heart for the Lord and to share Jesus. If you already serve in children's ministry, I would encourage you to also pray for each child that attends on a regular basis. This will help your love grow for each individual girl and boy.
Your Child's Friends
This is just an area of life that is starting to open up for our family (our children are pretty young), but it is definitely something I desire to have. The fun house. I want our home to be the place where kids feel comfortable hanging out. I want it to be filled with laughter and love. I also want to use this opportunity to get to know the kids - all of them - better and be able to share our faith with them. Making our home inviting will allow more opportunity for this.
Help a friend
A great way to get to know children and help their mother (especially if she is single) out is to offer to watch the kids for her. There are so many different errands or doctor appointments that are just easier when you do not have the kids in tow. Or maybe she would like just to have some time at home alone - silence is golden! While she is enjoying some time to herself for chores, errands, doctor appts or just being silent with God, you can be investing in her children's lives.
Have a fun activity planned, like baking cookies or playing a board game. This will help the kids feel comfortable and have fun - which means they will want to come back. The bigger the investment you make in their lives, the more likely you will have the chance to not only share Jesus with the kids, but give them examples of how He has worked in your own life.
These are just a few different ways that you can invest in children's lives. Studies show that most Christians began their walk with the King when they were a child.
Get your tools ready, God has lots of work.