For a few years after college, I lived in New York City. The congregation I attended was full of extremely talented people who were gifted by God in lots of ways. The thing I enjoyed the most though, was that the people there had found so many creative ways to use their gifts to glorify God. The experience opened my eyes to the many ways people are gifted by God and how they can use these gifts to serve God in an infinite number of ways.
Research is showing that the Church is losing its young people more rapidly than ever before. Not only that, but if a young person is considered creative or artistic, they are even more likely to leave the Church and in theory, God. No one knows for sure why and I am sure there are lots of reasons. I do think though, that the Church can be horribly slow in not only recognizing the gifts God has given our children, but also in finding meaningful ways for the children to use those gifts to serve God.
You know the parenting verse in Proverbs everyone always quotes about training your child “in the way he should go”? (Proverbs 22:6) Most preachers will point out this means we should discipline our children really well or make sure they know the Bible. Once though, I heard a preacher say he thought it meant God had hard-wired each child for what God wanted them to do in His kingdom. Our job as parents was to help them find the path God had set for them and encourage them to follow it.
Now, I am not about to take sides in the debate, partially because I don’t speak Hebrew, but mainly because I think all of them have valid points when you add additional scriptures to the mix. I love the idea though that God has gifted your child with certain gifts God wants him to use to serve others and to spread the Gospel.
Last Sunday as I was almost finished getting ready for church, I was hit by the kind of pain that doubles you over. It quickly became apparent that a run to the emergency room was in my near future. I probably should have panicked.
This summer I am running our children’s Bible class program – Missionary Journeys. This usually means quite a bit of last minute set-up on Sunday mornings as well as co-ordinating volunteers and teaching one of the centers. None of that was going to be done by me that day.
We ran by the church building on the way to the hospital and basically kicked our fifteen year old daughter and all of the stuff needed for Bible class out of our car. As we drove off towards the hospital, she was left to do everything I normally did on Sunday mornings for set-up and co-ordination as well as the photography and filming that she normally does for me.
Peter has always been my favorite Apostle. I love him because when he was “in”, he was “all in”. You never doubted where Peter came down on an issue. He was passionate about whatever he was saying or doing. If you recall, being passionate also got him in a little bit of turbulent water. Peter didn’t hesitate to jump out of the boat and start walking towards Jesus. He didn’t think things through too well though and forgot to keep his eyes on Jesus. Thankfully, Jesus was there to bail him out.
I think there was something important about Peter’s passion. Jesus knew that very difficult times were ahead for the Apostles and all Christians. It would take a passionate person to keep everyone on track through the persecutions and grow the church at the same time.
When your child is young, he is probably more interested in the bow on his present than what is in the box. Eventually, he discovers what is inside is more exciting than the wrapping (unless Martha Stewart is your aunt!). He will eagerly tear the paper to get to what is inside.
God gives everyone gifts or talents. We will teach our child how to open a birthday present, but have we taught her how to open her gifts from God? My guess is many of us still have presents from God we have yet to open. We haven’t even thought about teaching our children how to find and open their own gifts.