One of the advantages to getting older is you begin to notice patterns in human behavior. Watching others carefully over time can help you decide what strategies tend to work and which ones don’t. One of my favorite ones to teach young people is the tendency of many people to avoid what I like to call God opportunities.
You may have seen this yourself and not realized it. Ever heard someone bemoan there aren’t any opportunities for their child to serve at church? Yet your church bulletin is filled with ads asking for volunteers. Or maybe you have heard a parent complain their children haven’t made any friends at church, but their kids only go to class or activities once a month or less.
God often provides us with a lot of opportunities we choose to ignore or reject. Oh, we have all sorts of good reasons, but the end result is we miss many opportunities God gives us to experience the Christian life fully.
Now don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a lecture about perfect church attendance. Rather I want to help you train your children o recognize these opportunities to grow spiritually and maybe even participate in changing the world and pointing people to God.
So how can you help your kids recognize and accept these God opportunities? There are probably a lot of things you can share with them, but these are a few of my favorites.
- God is active in their lives every day. Your kids may readily recognize God’s hand at work when something very big and obvious happens. Do they understand God is working even when they can’t see it at the moment? A distant, uninvolved God would not inspire anyone to seek, much less accept the opportunities He provides.
- God provides opportunities for them to serve Him in a variety of ways. Some opportunities are designed to help your child’s faith grow. Others may be a chance to practice obedience – especially when it runs contrary to popular culture. Sometimes God will give them chances to fully discover and develop the gifts and talents He has given them to serve Him. God will almost always give your children lots of opportunities to serve others and share their faith.
- Opportunities from God may have an expiration date. Just because God gives your child an amazing opportunity to share her faith, doesn’t mean she will have that same chance tomorrow with the same person. Procrastinating acceptance of God’s opportunities may mean they miss them entirely instead.
- Ignoring opportunities from God may mean they will miss out on future opportunities or blessings. We have watched multiple times over the years at the relationships we gained from taking advantage of a God opportunity. Often these relationships have led us to serve God in ways we would have never imagined. Had we passed on the original opportunity, I’m not sure God would have placed the second opportunity in our path.
- Just because an opportunity is provided by God, does’t mean everything will go perfectly within that experience. People often drop out of an opportunity from God in the middle of it. They figure God wouldn’t make something He wanted this hard to do. What they are forgetting is that Satan is active also. He will do everything in his power (which thankfully is never as great as God’s.) to thwart God’s opportunities in some way. The trick is to verify the best you can you are doing God’s will and then continue doing just that.
- Everything that looks “good” to us is not necessarily an opportunity from God. Teach your children to be very careful. Temptations may be packaged as wonderful opportunities. Don’t let them be fooled. If a “dream” opportunity begins pulling you away from God, you can begin to wonder if this one is actually from Satan instead.
- Sometimes opportunities from God don’t look like much fun at all. Let’s be honest, working hard serving someone in horribly hot weather or other tough conditions, doesn’t exactly look like paradise. Yet some of those difficult opportunities from God may help them grow, serve others or share their faith the most.
Help your children notice God’s opportunities as they arise in their lives. Encourage them to examine the opportunity to make sure it will not draw them away from God in some way. Help them take full advantage of the opportunities God provides. Who knows what sort of God adventures your children and your family will have!