Image (c) Depositphotos.com/ Cherry-MerryCan you make a difference where you are right now? What is the best way to reach kids who seem to change and grow up overnight? Those are big questions that cannot be fully answered in one blog post, but let me share a little of what I learned at the Orange Conference last month.
"It's just a phase."This year's theme was "It's just a phase, so make the most of it." The idea is that kids grow up fast. They are only preschoolers, elementary kids, middle- and high school student for a short time. Then they are gone. Each phase along the way has its own challenges, victories, crises, joys, interests, and lingo. Parents, leaders, and teachers are encouraged to meet kids where they are and invest in them in each unique phase. That's great, you may say, but where do you start? It starts with you and me. We don't have to be perfect. (Thank You, Jesus!) I know I regularly fall short of that standard (Romans 3:23). We do, however, have to acknowledge and repent of our sin, giving God our broken hearts.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:17 (NIV)
You're not "just" anythingWe don't have to be important, or work on a church staff in order to impact the lives around us in big ways. As Andy Stanley said referring to young Nehemiah, we shouldn't discount ourselves and say, "I'm just a cup-bearer" (see Nehemiah 1, especially verse 11). You aren't "just" anything. You are a child of the King (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)You are not "just" anything. You are valuable and the things you do are important. Kids have value and important things to do as well. Do your kids know that? Do you sometimes forget those things are true about you too? Kids can forget or have trouble believing it too. Why not decide to encourage one another and remind each other of these things? One final thing. Every Christian has a unique calling, passion, and set of skills and spiritual gifts. How are you using yours? How are you loving others and serving eh lord? How are your kids? It can be investing in one life through lots of little things or in flashier ways. Both are important.
I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it. But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair? 1 Corinthians 12:14-24 (MSG)
The power of a surrendered heartI like to listen to audio books while driving, especially on road trips. This time I finally read Kisses from Katie, a book my friend has been recommending for moths. I was blown away. It's about a girl who took her commitment to follow Christ and serve Him seriously. As a result, God rocked her world and the lives of all those around her.
Image from https://amazima.org/ about-us/katies-storyHe took a well-to-do teenager on the path to "success" and transplanted her from Tennessee to Uganda at the age of eighteen. By the age of twenty-three, she had adopted fourteen children and started a non-profit to meet kids' physical needs and send them to school. (Learn more about Amazima Ministries here.) She continues to live in Uganda, feeding the hungry, taking in sick and wounded, and raising her unconventional family, all to share the love of her Savior where God placed her. Your story may not be that dramatic. Mine isn't. Still, we (you, me, children, teenagers, and other adults) can each choose to write God a blank check. Isaiah did. Before he even knew what God wanted him to do, Isaiah said, "Here I am. Send me" (Isaiah 6:8). All he knew was that he'd encountered the living God and his life would never be the same again. Have you done that? Have your kids? (See more here.) Commit today to serving and loving God with abandon where He has you now and anywhere He may lead in the future.