I spent last weekend with fifteen wonderful ladies to train for our upcoming Community Bible Study year. As a children’s ministry worker, I learned what my curriculum will look like and scoped out classrooms. I got to know many of the people I’d be working with as we planned ways to love on our little lambs. Our leaders poured encouragement into us and reminded us of the high calling to shepherd children.
These precious little ones don’t know it yet, but we have an enemy who’d like to convince them that they are evolutionary accidents with little or no value. The sooner he can beat them down with shame and feelings of low worth, the easier it will be to prevent them from living an abundant life.
We’ve seen the effects in the media lately. Planned Parenthood workers brazenly flaunt their profits from killing the most vulnerable. Television shows depict children as narcissistic and unpleasant. Detectives found child pornography images on a Tennessee child psychologist’s computer and charged him with 26 counts of child-pornography related crimes. I could go on, but you get the idea (and this paragraph is probably making you as sick as it is me.)
When a child is treated like garbage, she begins to believe she is garbage.
But Jesus never intended it to be that way. Remember how sharply He rebuked the disciples when they tried to keep the children away from Him?
“Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children’” (Luke 18:16 NLT). Jesus valued them enough to put aside throngs of sick and hurting adults to minister to the youngest generation.
The children of our day are future world-changers, for good or bad. Whether you’re a parent, an aunt or uncle, mentor, or a teacher, you have a stake in their ultimate destiny. Without intervention, children unconsciously soak in the message that they aren’t valuable or lovable.
Here are three simple (but not easy) ways to reinforce the idea that the children in your life are priceless sons and daughters of God.
- Be Intentional Focus on positive aspects of the child in your life and mention them often. Even noticing a behavior issue they’re working to improve and praising them for it motivates even more change. Not only does this reinforce the idea to your child that he is a valued and loved member of the community, but it helps keep your focus on the good, rather than the bad. In the thick of teaching or parenting, I realize this is easier said than done, but in the long run, it prevents having to put out a lot of fires. Remember, a child easily believes what she hears about herself.
- Stay Connected It’s easy to get busy and let relationships run on the status quo, but children grow so quickly during their formative years. The minutes spent listening to what’s on their minds communicates that you place value on what they’re thinking and doing. One on one time, as appropriate for the relationship, builds trust and provides opportunities for a peek into what’s going on in his heart. It’s during the spontaneous teaching times that a child will allow guidance in spiritual matters.
- Apologize Let’s face it. We all blow it from time to time. Fear, fatigue, and sheer frustration cause us to lose our cool. No parent rears a child to adulthood without saying something hurtful. (This goes for any relationship.) Just like we don’t expect our children to be perfect, they don’t expect it from us. When we mess up, the best way to heal the wound is to own up to our mistake and say we’re sorry. Don’t tack on “you just made me so mad,” or anything resembling blame; simply say it was wrong and that you’re sorry.
These are some ways I’ll incorporate into loving my little lambs this year in children’s ministry. I’m challenged anew to pass on the message of Jesus’ unfathomable love, so that they’ll know their place in the Kingdom. I want to use whatever influence I have to counteract the culture’s negative message and share the truth.
Do you have children in your life? What are some other techniques to reinforce the truth that our children are precious in Jesus’ sight?
I’d love for you to join the conversation in the comments below.