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Posts Tagged ‘1 Samuel’

For over thirty years, Sherrylee and I  have been dealing with parents who thought that their student’s desire to do an LST summer mission trip was at best just a one-time fling, and at worst, a frivolous, extravagant indication of their child’s immaturity.

A large number of our summer workers have come home wanting to change their majors from Accounting to International Business, or from Computer Science to Ministry—just exactly what their parents were afraid of!

Do you really want your child to grow up to be a missionary? Here are the obvious reasons why parents do not encourage this desire in their children.

  • No money in it.  In fact, you become dependent on the charity of others.
  • Not a success-oriented career.
  • No upward mobility.
  • Takes you away from the family. And what about the grandkids knowing the grandparents?
  • Makes you misfits! Everyone knows that missionaries don’t really fit into mainstream America after returning home.
  • Bad for your children. They grow up not speaking English, not playing baseball, and maybe even vegetarians.
  • It’s not safe. Stay home and live in Oklahoma City or Dallas or Los Angeles or New York City, where you’ll be safe.

I love the Old Testament story of Hannah, who can’t have children, so she prays—so hard that the observing priest thinks she is drunk.  Then she does something pretty preposterous: she vows to God that if given a son, she will “give him to the Lord all the days of his life”(1 Samuel 1:11).

If she hadn’t been quite so rash with her vows, she would have realized that she was giving away what she so desperately wanted—but I don’t think she saw it all that way!  When Samuel was very young, his mother took him to the priest and gave him into the ministry.  I’m sure there was pain in the moment, but the first words out of her mouth are:

My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in the Lord. . . . There is none holy like the Lord…there is no rock like our God (1 Samuel 2:1ff)

Hannah visits her young son each year, bringing him new clothes to wear. Samuel served the priest Eli humbly for many years until one day the Lord called his name! Yes, that is what happens when we raise children to be servants of God.  They are called–and not to that which we may have planned for them.  Samuel does not become high priest. Samuel does not become king over Israel. Samuel does not become commanding general of the armies of Israel.  Scripture says,

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord” (1 Samuel 3:19-20).

Here’s what I glean from this story that will help you have a child with a heart for God’s mission:

  • Recognize that your child is a gift from God, that he/she belongs to God, and that if God had not answered your prayers, you would have nothing!
  • Having recognized that your children belong to God, don’t hold on to them as if they are yours. Give them back to His service at a very young age. I don’t know exactly what this means search for any answer about our children.
  • Teach your children to serve the Lord by placing them in the hands of those who do serve the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:11) Learning to serve is almost always the first step, not learning to lead.
  • Support your children in their service! (1 Samuel 2:19)
  • Teach your children to hear the voice of the Lord calling their name! And if you can’t do that, then bring people into their lives who can! (1 Samuel 3:1-14)

So the first step in helping your children have hearts for the mission of God is to search your own heart as a parent!  What precious item belonging to God are you trying to keep for yourself? Are your desires for your children covered in prayer by the words, “not my will, but Yours be done?”

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