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Living Large

December 14, 2012
Living Large

We all want the best for our children. We want them to be used by God to do great things, to be world-changers and make a difference in eternity. But these things don’t happen by accident; they are planned for, prayed for, and worked toward.

You may be surprised to hear this, but children are born with an incredibly small worldview. Their entire universe exists inside their own skin: what do I want, what do I feel, what makes me happy. If we want our children to grow up to be something for God, we must expand their view of life, and it’s never too early to start.

Just taking the children to church is not enough; if that’s all you do, you haven’t even gotten in the ballpark yet. “Church” in the twenty-first century is mostly a spectator sport, and God has enough spectators. What he wants are workers.

How do we raise up workers who will make a difference for God? Three ways: we plan, we pray, and we implement.

Plan

Nothing big ever happens without a plan…

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:28–30).

…and the plan should be in place before the materials (the children) show up. Parents, have a vision of what you want your children to be when they are adults, and start heading toward that goal right now, even before they are born. Plan for the good times and the difficult times before they happen. Make your decisions now, when you can think clearly, before you are in the heat of the moment. Decide how you will handle this situation and that one. Will you let the children have sleep-overs? Who, if anyone, will be allowed to babysit? Will you homeschool or send them to public or private school? Will they take dance lessons or learn cooking and carpentry and first aid skills? Will you permit shyness or teach them to be outgoing and confident? Consider how all your decisions will shape who they become, thereby dictating what they are able to do in the Lord’s work.

Pray

It goes without saying that we must pray for our children, so why is it so hard to do consistently? Is it because we are too busy to spend ten minutes on our knees asking God to use our kids for his glory? Is it because we think he is too busy to listen? We’ve all heard the story about the guy who gets to heaven and God shows him all the storehouses of blessings he wanted to give, but the guy never asked. I wonder how many of our children will miss God’s best because we didn’t make prayer a priority.
Pray now. Pray often. Pray without ceasing. Don’t wait until there is a catastrophe and then beg God to get you and your kids out of it. Pray preemptively.

Implement

So how do we bring about what we want in our children’s lives? How do we implement the plan? Just as we learn the scriptures line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, our children will learn what it means to serve God the same way.

You will never get your children to a particular place if you don’t go there yourself. When the shepherd wants his flock in a particular place, he doesn’t run after them, yelling about which way to turn or barking directions about how much farther it is. He gets out in front of the flock and LEADS them. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

If you want your kids to be hard workers, be a hard worker. If you want the girls to be contented homemakers who serve their families, be a contented homemaker who serves her family. If you want them to be soul winners, be a soul winner, and take them along so they can see how it’s done and gain confidence that it is a normal part of everyday life. Show them how we hand out tracts and tell people about Jesus everywhere we go—the bank, the gas station, Lowe’s, Walmart. They will grow up thinking this is normal, and when your kids meet people who don’t witness all the time, those people will be the oddballs.

When our five kids were little, we were part of a missions-minded fellowship. There was a constant stream of missionary families always coming through, and though we had five children in a 1200-square-foot house with one bathroom, we always had missionary families staying with us. Our kids got to meet the families who were bold enough to go, and hear firsthand the stories of God working on the mission field. It gave them a taste of what was possible and greatly expanded their worldview. They learned there were billions more people in the world than just the twelve kids in their Sunday school class.

By the time they were teens, our kids had seen and heard enough; they were ready to go and do. One by one they committed themselves to a short-term work they felt God would bless, and dove in wholeheartedly. On an enlisted military salary, we couldn’t help them pay for their trips. It was up to them to figure out how to do that—and what great lessons in trusting God!

Send Them Out

Our oldest son spent a college spring break with a group of young men doing construction work for a mission in Mexico. We had no money to pay for his trip, but told him we would help him pray for God’s provision. Two months before they were to go, God gave Mike a small job that would pay the full price. Watching God provide became deliriously fun sport at our house.

When our second child, Deb, was sixteen, she was ready to go. She found a group that organized summer-long mission trips for teens and signed up. Her first-choice trip to Siberia was canceled due to visa problems, so she had to choose another destination. Three weeks before she was to leave, she told us she believed God wanted her to go to Cuba. When her daddy balked at that idea, she countered with, “But you said I should go someplace where people might never hear the gospel if I don’t go tell them.”

God has a funny way of turning the tables on us, doesn’t he? Our goal for our kids was that they should learn to trust God completely; now we were the ones doing all the trusting. For 30 days she and her team traveled around Cuba, eating nothing but rice and beans (and dog, the one time they got meat), having no access to clean water, contracting parasites, at times being sought by the authorities for their proselytizing—and we had no communication with her at all. Now that will bring a mom and dad to their knees.

In subsequent years we sent children on mission trips to Poland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, and Hong Kong, always letting them trust God to provide for their needs, and what an amazing education it was for them and for us.

God does not give us children so we can hoard them for ourselves, keeping them for our own enjoyment. If your view of life is so small that you can’t see past your own four walls, start inviting life in. Expand your own worldview, and take your children with you. Get to know some missionaries, and find out how your family can help them. Don’t raise your kids up to keep them close; prepare them to go out and to carry the glorious gospel of Christ with them when they go.

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7 comments on “Living Large”

  1. Thank you for the artical Ms Sargent!
    It was encouraging, even though I don't have a family of my own yet!
    I was wondering: what the organization was that your daughter went with on short term mission trips?
    Thank you very much!
    In Christ...

  2. LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!!
    Those kids in the picture are on a Teen Missions International (TMI) Mission Trip. I know those nametags personally after 3 trips with them as a teen team member and 2 more trips as a teen leader of teens!!! Some of the sweetest times in my life. Daily devotional time every morning, experincing new countries, hard work, bonding and memorizing KJV scripture all summer (40 verses!). God Bless TMI and now I am crying 🙂

    http://www.teenmissions.org/?gclid=COHkvpPun7QCFYuZ4AodQ3IA-g

    Now I am a mother and my children and Toys R Us and our rental community are my mission fields. All my younger siblings went and the two youngest will go again this summer-to the glory of God!

  3. Your article is so good & accurate. My wise son recently said, roughly along this line, "to know something and to act upon that knowledge are 2 different things."

    "You will never get your children to a particular place if you don't go there yourself" goes hand in hand w/ "if you want your kids to be hard workers, be a hard worker." Thank you for sharing. I have 2 yrs to redeemed what "has been not done."

    Many will read this article & nod & get inspired. But inspiration alone will not get them anywhere unless they sit down, make a blue print of what to do & do it. The sin of not doing is so great & grave, it doesn't spare any well meaning folks (read Mike Pearl's "6 Ways Parents Destroy Their Children W/o Trying")

  4. O excellent. That is exactly my God given heart for my children. Listen very carefully to what I say. God given, if I had the choice I would keep them with me as long as possible.
    We are South-Africans living in Taiwan. I teach English to the little children at our Church and my 13 year old daughter is helping me. I teach art ones a month and my 11 year old son helps me, every Tuesdays all three my children helps me to play with toddlers in English. They love to serve in Church together with me and it is our passion.
    My oldest daughter who is 16 will start serving youth in another Church where it is English based. She wants to go on mission trips, but now this is her first step 'away' from us. At this stage I go with her until I see that she can go on on herself.
    It was very funny. When I took Amber to meet the people at the English church she would listen to there teachings and when it came for her to ask a question she asked "Do you know Michael Pearl of No Greater Joy"?
    I Homeschool my children and we do our Bible teaching from Michael Pearl's teachings.
    Thank you for sharing God's truth. And it is wonderful to see that in God we have the same hearts for our Children in the Kingdom of God.
    All about God, all for God. God leads us, God equippes us, we follow joyfully.

  5. What a wonderful article, I read it this morning and my heart has been stirred all day. I’m the mother of three children, 6,3, and 1. We just started homeschooling our oldest this year and attend church on a regular basis (just some background information). I’m afraid I’m guilty of not putting my words into action and making church a spectator sport. I take full responsibility of any shortcomings and do not want to come across as self righteous in my search for a church or fellowship with a zeal for spreading the gospel and training our children to do the same. We live about 2 hrs north of Cane Creek. Does anyone have any suggestions or practical advice? I understand that we must start with ourselves and be an example but I would also like to be in fellowship with other families with these same goals and ideals who go out and make it happen.