Are you intimidated by the challenge of raising your kids to follow Jesus? Here are three tips from a missionary mom on how to train your children to be world-changers.
1. Inspire Mission-Mindedness
Raising up the next generation of missionaries is a formidable task. When you contemplate the increasing hostility toward Christianity, are you easily daunted? When I examine my own weakness and the fragility of my children, I am quickly discouraged. How will we fulfill the demand of our calling to this generation while preparing the next to face difficulties that we can only imagine?
As I weigh these thoughts, my heart is burdened with sorrow and cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!” But He hasn’t come yet. He has so much more to accomplish, and we—me with my children and you with yours—are His chosen vessels.
There isn’t time for wallowing in the mire of this sinful world. We must rise in the strength of Christ and remember that we are not of those who cower in fear. After all, He has promised that He will gently lead those with young (Isa. 40:11).
I had no idea that the lessons God was teaching me over the winter would be shared so soon. So this article comes with a disclaimer—not to discredit the Lord’s work, but to be honest—I am not an expert.
I am not returning from the battlefield wiser and more learned; I am in the trenches with you, cheering you on as you take a stand for Christ with the next generation at your side. And what I share with you is but one perspective on forming mission-mindedness in our children.
2. Equip Them to be Ready
The first lesson the Lord taught me was the need for proper equipping.
By this I mean that my young ones need to learn how to put off the old nature before they can put on the new nature. Placing a new patch on an old garment will result in failure (Matt. 9:16-17). This concept is very familiar to Christians, but the Lord seemed to be reinforcing it through a fresh perspective on a treasured verse.
Proverbs 22:6—“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” In his book Competent to Counsel, Dr. J.E. Adams offers the following commentary:
Proverbs 22:6 … has been taken by some interpreters to mean that if parents train children properly in youth, they will not depart from that training when they grow older. However, this is probably not what the verse means.
Literally, the passage reads, “Train a child after the manner of his way,” that is, after the standard or manner in which he wants to be trained. The verse stands not as a promise but as a warning to parents that if they allow a child to train himself after his own wishes (permissively), they should not expect him to want to change these patterns when he matures.
That last statement stopped me dead in my tracks. Am I passively allowing natural dispositions to rule my children? Am I effectively training them to resist going their own way? Am I leading my kids through the putting-off stages before I ask them to put on Christ?
These are vital matters in developing mission-mindedness.
3. Teach Them to Overcome for the Sake of the Gospel
I have one daughter who is quite introverted.
As someone who is not naturally outgoing, she must learn to stand firm against growing shy. Shyness is one of those “soft sins” that we excuse. Truthfully, shyness is rooted in fear and selfishness. It will hinder the advancement of the gospel since it places personal comfort above God’s desires.
This quiet, gentle daughter of mine has to learn to put off the enemy’s counterfeit trait and to put on the Lord’s courage and boldness. As she ages, this trait has the potential to become a stronghold in her life if she does not overcome it in her youth.
So we have implemented a new dimension to our missionary training regime: Get uncomfortable and take a risk (for the glory of God!). Of course this is occurring in small steps, but we already see promising benefits.
As parents, we must assist our children in identifying their weaknesses. We must lead them to the Word of God to discover what He says about those faults and how to deal with them. Then we can walk alongside them as they learn to overcome by putting off the old and putting on the new.
Jesus becomes their living, active Lord and Savior as we encourage them to exercise the strength of Christ. This gives them a thorough understanding of God’s Word and equips them to lead others to Christ.
Since they have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, they will desire to share His goodness with others. Since they have experienced the power of His saving grace, they will be ready to trust Him through whatever adventures the Lord has ahead.
Visit our blog next week for part two on how to teach children to recognize opportunities for sharing the gospel and how you can inspire them to a lifestyle of serving Jesus.
For resources to provide your children with a global vision and equip them to follow Jesus, check out our Family Discipleship Curriculum (coming soon!). These family Bible devotions include lessons on countries around the world, focusing on the needs and cultures of the persecuted church and unreached people groups and invites children to be part of God’s plan to reach the nations with the gospel.