Over my last 12 years in ministry I have had the pleasure of watching a lot of students grow in their relationship with the Lord and many who have heard the call to become missionaries. So many of these students have told me that the hardest part was trying to explain this call to their parents. So, to avoid the shock, awkward tension, and sometimes poor reactions to God’s call on your children’s lives, here are three simple steps—when applied consistently—can have wonderful results.
It seems so obvious, but the prayer that I’m suggesting may be a bit more difficult. It goes something like this:
Jesus, you know and love my children more than I do, please prepare my heart to encourage them to follow your direction, even if it scares the living daylights out of me.
When we pray like this for our children, God is preparing us to hear and support His call on our children’s lives as He prepares them to live out that calling. This is biblical fatherhood. Also, the earlier you start praying for your kids like this the better. It builds anticipation in you for how God will work in them, and you will be more eager to disciple them intentionally. Discipleship starts in the home, but it doesn’t end there. The godly father understand he is preparing his kids for more than just a moral life; he's preparing them to live a godly one.
Your kid is gifted and talented in ways that you can’t even fully grasp. God has wired them to be passionate about things that you may not get. How do you prepare your kid that might be called to be a missionary?
I would encourage two things:
1) Disciple them intentionally and consistently like you would any other kid. Their calling is not much different than a kid who is called to be a doctor, or janitor. We’re all missionaries, right? Prepare them to take the gospel and make disciples that make disciples. That is the heart of every disciple, because it’s the heart of Jesus.
2) Take advantage of missions opportunities. Encourage them to go on short-term mission trips. Let them experience cross-cultural communication, culture shock, and reverse culture shock as they return home. Debrief your kids about their experience, bring it back to the word, glean solid take-aways from those experiences, and look ahead to what’s next.
As your kids grow, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, plan for your kid’s future. You will be the biggest influence in helping them understand how their passion and their gifts coincide with how they are called. If you as a growing, mature believer sees God’s call on your child’s life to be a missionary, help them plan to get to their mission field.
You may want to develop the habit of praying with your kid for people groups who have not heard the gospel. Take time to talk with missionaries when you can. Hearing missionaries’ stories has helped to develop my love for missions.
Also think about helping them prepare through education. What do they need to know to be an asset on the mission field? Help them sort through the myriad of awesome educational opportunities to get them ready to serve to the best of their ability.
It is a blessing to see your kids being used by God to reach people with the gospel. But, it doesn’t just happen automatically. God can and will use you in the process of building a missionary out of your children. Don’t be disconnected from their call and shocked by God’s call. Be intentional, consistent and watch God grow them into the call He has for their lives, and let Him use you to do it.
This is a guest post from Will King. Will is a doctoral student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary studying leadership. He is also the associate pastor of students and men’s ministry at Memorial Baptist Church in Baytown, TX. Before serving in Texas, Will served as the associate pastor of students and education at First Baptist Church in Live Oak, Florida, while he completed his Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to Lucinda for 13 years and they have three wonderful kids and are in the middle of adopting a little boy from China.
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