There Are No Professional Kid’s Ministry Workers

no-professionalsIf we want to reach the children in our homes or at our church, we have to be with them. We have to spend time driving toy cars on the furniture, hosting tea-parties, and celebrating the good grades on their report cards. In short, we have to do life with these precious little souls.

There are no professional parents or professional kids’ ministry leaders. True and effective parenting and ministry happens via life on life. Organizing programs and showing up for Sunday morning services will not produce life change by themselves. Our Wednesday night programs are only worth the time and effort it takes to get them going each week when the Bible is being taught and relationships are being formed. Our programs should be laying a groundwork that is needed to facilitate communication, care, encouragement and reproof. Our activities are not the sum total of the Christian life.

This is the crux of New Testament ministry.

Think of the apostle Paul. He repeatedly encouraged believers, to “imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1, 4:6; Phil. 3:17; Phi. 4:9; 2 Thess. 3:9). The pastoral letters clearly indicate that Paul diligently taught people the word of God. He was a great preacher. But Paul did not just preach once a week and consider his job done. No. He lived with the people he taught. He invested in them. He heard about their messy and complicated lives and showed them how the Scriptures could answer all of their problems. Paul knew the people he ministered to.

To be effective parents and kids’ ministry teachers, we must do the same thing. We must know what make our kids tick. We need to listen to their concerns, celebrate their triumphs, and note their weaknesses. We need to learn their hearts.

Moreover, we need to model the Christian faith for our children. We need to depend on God, make much of our savior, and be quick to repent of our sins. If we hope to reach the next generation with the gospel, we must be able to legitimately call our kids to follow us as we follow Christ.

If our parenting and ministry never extends beyond a prefabbed lesson, if we protect ourselves from getting to close to others, and if we turn our faith on and off each Sunday, we will be able to do many things. We may have great programs, we may have huge budgets, and we may have grand feelings of accomplishment. But we will not have reached and discipled anyone. We will not have cultivated the very relationships that facilitate gospel growth.

You and me are by definition needy. Unfortunately, the same is true of our kids. We are all needy. Such is life until Christ returns! If we get to know our kids and invest in us needy people, we know what will happen. Those sweet kids and their families will begin to consume our time, our energy and our money. (And yes, we should install boundaries to protect our families and our own spiritual lives.) We must be willing to sacrifice our lunch hour, to answer a midnight phone calls, and to redirect our movie budget to the local mission center. How else will people see the gospel in action? How else can we call people to follow us as we follow Christ?

Why Do We Crash After Spiritual Highs?

crashWhen I got off the bus, I was on cloud nine. I had just spent the past 10+ days on mission trip to New Mexico. I had shingled a roof, spent hours talking about the gospel, and was counseling with a young man when he accepted Christ. It was an amazing trip. But two weeks after leaving the bus, life was back to normal. The spiritual high was gone. And this experience has happened time and time again. I leave conferences, have an amazing Sunday of worship, or an awesome time ministering with kids and then come home to a complaining, messed up heart? Why do we continual crash spiritually after experiencing success? And how do we fight it?

We focus upon God.

In Mark 6:7-13, Jesus sends out the disciples to spread the good news of the gospel. They proclaim that the Messiah has come. People respond to the message. Demons are cast out. The sick are healed. The unredeemed believe. The disciples are excited and they cannot wait to tell Jesus all that God had done.

But there is a problem. When the disciples get back to Jesus, the place is over run with people (Mark 6:30). There are so many people present and asking things of Jesus that the disciples, “had no leisure even to eat” (v.31). Loving his disciples, Jesus leads them to a desolate place so that the disciples can finally rest and eat. But unfortunately for the disciples, the crowds follow. And because Jesus is compassionate, “he began to teach them many things” (v.35). Finally, the disciples have had enough. They tell Jesus to send the crowds away so that they can, “but themselves something to eat” (v. 36).

Think about what is going on here. The disciples are telling Jesus to send the crowds away. They are telling Jesus to stop preaching. They have gone from a spiritual high, to complaining to Jesus about Jesus. How crazy. But yet how familiar.

We often are like the disciples. We become focused on our comfort instead of Christ. They wanted to eat and eat now. While we may not be coveting food, we can easily become consumed with our own comfort. We can be driven for a desire to have health, a higher income, a nicer house, a spouse or children. We can long for these things more than Jesus. And when we do, we stop trusting Christ to care for us. We begin like the disciples scheming for ways to achieve our wants apart from Christ. We neglect our family for another hour at the gym. We pretend to be friends with our boss so we can get the promotion. We seek to manipulate the guy next door so he will ask us out. And as we strive out on our own, we become irritable. We stop loving others. We push people away because our hearts are dominate by selfishness. We no longer care about the advancement of the gospel. We want Jesus to meet our needs and meet them now even if that means the kingdom of God must suffer. And when we get in this mindset, we crash like the disciples did.

What’s the solution? The solution is to remember how amazing God is.

When the disciples challenge Jesus, he challenges them right back telling his disciples, “You give them something to eat” (v. 37). And of course they cannot do this. And they tell Jesus it is impossible to feed 5000+ people. And they are right. And Jesus knows this.

But He also knows another reality that the disciples have forgotten. Jesus is the loving, all powerful God of the universe. While the task is too big for the disciples it is not too big for Jesus. Jesus makes the food. He makes so much food that there are 12 baskets full of leftovers (v.44).

The point is this, God can and will deliver us. We cannot provide for our needs. We cannot achieve our own comfort. But Christ can. And he will do more than we expect. The disciples wanted for 12 people. Jesus provided food for thousands.

The way to keep from crashing and the way to come back from a crash is the same. Trust yourself to God. If you want a spouse, need more space for your growing family or more income to care for your mom, do not panic. Rather, turn to the God who loves you and rules. Trust him. God does not operate on our timetable. But he does move. And when he does, he will do far more than we ever could imagine.

Are you ready to stop focusing our yourself?

Should We Be Quick To Buy Things For Our Kids?

should we give our kids stuff blogMost every parent has been there. You are walking down the store aisle minding your buisness when your child spots a brightly colored new toy. You feel the tug at your heart strings. You love your little guy and can see that the yellow ball with an odd bumpy texture is bringing him unlimited joy. But at the same time, you had not planned to buy him anything. But then you look back into those little eyes, and his kindly, sheepish grin breakouts. What do we do?

Well if you grew up in a situation similar to my background and to my wife’ background, we simply tell him,  “N..O… no.” Our parents had no quandary when we asked for them stuff because they had no money. “We can’t afford that right now,” was a common mantra for both of us.

But what if we do have money, what if we can afford to buy our kids a new toy or video game when they ask? Should we do it?

On the one hand, God says it is good to give gifts.  And, we should seek to imitate our heavenly father by giving our kids good things (Matt. 7:11). We should seek to loving care for our children by sacrificing our wants for their needs.

But before we rush to the checkout line with our kid’s new ball, we also need to think about what our new purchase will teach our child. Often when our child becomes fascinated with a new ball, video game, or pair of shoes, she is coveting. She is seeking satisfaction in something other than Jesus. And when we buy our kid the latest copy of Madden or the new pair of Nike’s, we are helping him pursue his latest idol. We are enabling him for a brief moment to find his happiness and identity in something other than Jesus.

And of course our kids will love us when, we give them what they want. They will try to reward us with hugs, complements, and an occasional day of good behavior. They always like it when we help them achieve their idols.

But often giving our kids the things they want is not the most loving thing a parent can do. Satisfaction, happiness, and joy are only found in Jesus. As Psalm 73:25-26 says,

Whom have I in heaven but you?

    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail,

    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever

Consequently, we want to parent in such a way that our kids are taught to find their satisfaction in Christ. We should not throw money and time behind their every desire. We should rebuke a greedy, covetous heart and redirect it to Jesus.

And here is another thing to remember. Even if our kids get everything they want on earth, they will not be happy. Life is found is God and not in video games, shoes, or travel teams. Earthly things will eventually disappoint. Games will become outdate, shoes wear out, and travel ball eventually becomes boring. If you doubt me, just think about how many of your kids’ toys you’ve already gotten rid of.

Now I am not saying that you should never give your kid a gift. And I am not saying that we can always prevent our kids from misusing the things we give them. What I am trying to get at is this: the decision concerning whether or not to buy our kids something is bigger than the size of our budget. It goes to a heart issue. We should be willing to lovingly deny our kids things for the sake of the gospel. Love is not fulfilling our kids’ dreams. Love is pointing them to Jesus. Are we doing this?