I have influence as a parent. While my kids are still under my roof, I want to lead my children to taste and see that it is a beautiful thing to serve Christ. I’ve shared the insights from kids in two different families in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.
I interviewed a teenage boy. He and his family have been active in serving together. locally and internationally. His thoughts are poignant about his experience serving as a family.
Nathan, 14 years old
“It felt very natural to me to serve together as a family. (1) I feel that this is what God intended, for families to serve together. (2) I have usually felt ready to serve, especially when it is in a ministry where I feel that God is using my gifts. Sometimes it is hard because my entire family might want to serve in a place where I don't feel called to serve or as effective. I am glad that I am serving with my parents and my family. Through serving, I have grown closer to my family. (3) I have also learned how powerful God is. Here in America we don't always picture Him as a radical, super-powerful God. We really see His power when we serve, especially internationally. My advice to parents who are considering serving as a family is (4) "Do it!"
God’s Intent for Families. Nathan says that it feels very natural to serve together with his family. Amen. There’s no safer place to test out your gifts and your abilities than with you family. How special to step out of your comfort zone with the ones who taught you to take your very first steps. I agree with Nathan. I feel God intends families to serve together. It is scary when you’re learning to ride a bike for the first time. How special when you have your earthly father has his hand directly on your back. There’s a beautiful reassurance when a dad and a son are boarding an overseas flight to a third world country – together – and your earthly father has his hand directly on your back, once again. There is familiarity with family; there is modeling through your family; there is an intimacy between family members that is incommunicably beautiful. There is no safer place to try your hand at serving the King of the Universe than with your own nuclear family.
Strengths and Weaknesses. Nathan felt ready to serve when he felt he was in his special area of giftedness. Boy, do I agree! It feels so good and right when we are in an area of strength, where the unique empowering of God indwells as He has endowed. But sometimes it is hard…like when we are not in that special area of calling or gifting. Nathan puts it well: “Sometimes it is hard because my entire family might want to serve in a place where I don't feel called to serve or as effective.” Again, I totally agree. It was just as valuable to learn I am NOT gifted as a craftsman as learning I AM gifted as a communicator. Only through a variety of experiences did I learn these valuable lessons. Finding out who we are as servant-believers at a young age, while still under the care and guidance of our parents is so powerful!
First Hand Experience. Nathan has a personal testimony about the greatness of God. Nathan has his own story. He has his own personal experiences upon which to reflect as to the greatness of God. How much more valuable is it for Nathan himself, as a 14-year-old guy, to “taste and see” for himself as opposed to sitting and listening to someone share about their experience of the greatness of God. I commend Nathan’s parents for providing an opportunity for him to develop his own personal memory bank of experiences with the Almighty.
Bias Toward Action. “Do it!” That is the advice from a 14-year-old boy, who has personally experienced the blessing of serving with his family. I agree. Nathan is being given an unprecedented chance to be developed as a world Christian Nathan, by God’s grace and plan, may grow up to be a husband and a father someday. The model that has been set forth by his parents is one worthy of being replicated. The likelihood of Nathan following in his parent’s footsteps is very, very high. My hope is that Nathan will be a man with a bias towards action, both now and always, like he example of his parents.
Serving together as a family is one of the most important ways we can invest in the spiritual development of our children. My hope would be that we would all take Nathan’s advice: “Do it!” Your family can participate together, even when your kids are at a young age. Start small. Pray that God would systematically grow your family’s capacity to serve together as the years carry forward. It will be worth it.