3 Ways to Teach our Children to Say Yes to God
My firstborn was barely seven months old when we said the biggest “Yes” of our lives, answering God’s call to be missionaries in Guatemala. After months of long car rides and support raising to fund our calling, the day was finally here. Our now twenty-month-old son watched as we packed all of his toys onto a container, said goodbye to his grandparents, and boarded a plane for a new adventure in Guatemala.
Life in Guatemala was never dull. We had to continually say yes to Jesus as we faced the daily hardships of living in a third-world country while simultaneously being in awe that God would choose to use us to do His work. As we grew into our life in Guatemala, my little guy watched excitedly as his baby brother grew in my belly. We made a quick trip to the States after living in Guatemala for six months to give birth to his little brother, fully intending to return and live out our “yes” as a family of four.
We hurried back to Guatemala, eager to resume ministry as a family of four, blissfully unaware of the curveball up ahead. Upon our return, we busied ourselves with cleaning up from a recent volcanic eruption, grocery runs, and trying to get our water turned back on, with little notice of our newborn’s worsening condition. By our fourth night in Guatemala it was evident that our baby was suffering from altitude sickness and was in critical condition. He was depleted of all oxygen, taking 90 breaths a minute, and screaming for air. After an emergency flight home and months of tests he was diagnosed with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. In short, the altitude of our ministry in Guatemala would be life threatening to him, and we were left with no choice but to change ministry paths.
In the middle of it all, was my very scared and confused two-year-old, watching as our yes to God was seemingly crumbling. My heart ached for him as I wondered how he would ever make sense of it all. As I struggled with my own frustrations, I worried if the challenges in the early years of his life would make him guarded towards following God. Thankfully, I was so wrong.
About a month later, he and I were grocery shopping when I explained where God was leading our family next. I told him about foster care, and asked if he would be willing to have children that needed a safe place to live share his house one day. I braced myself, fully expecting his objections. After all, he had already sacrificed normal toddlerhood as a missionary kid. Didn’t he have every right to say no this time?
I will never forget the way his face lit up as he exclaimed, “Yes, mommy yes! We need to help those kids. We need to tell them about how Jesus loves them. We need to feed them.” God used his response to soften my own heart, emboldening me to keep saying yes to His calling on my life.
Over the past year, I have watched in awe as that sweet boy has blossomed in his faith. I often question how he so easily says yes to God. I truly believe that there is nothing greater that we can teach our children than to say yes to God.
So, how do we do that?
1. Teach them that Jesus said yes to us.
The biggest honor of parenthood is to share the Gospel with our children—to tell them of the greatest yes in history. The sacrifice that offered salvation to all mankind. In Matthew 26:39 we see that Jesus was in agony over the sacrifice that He would have to make, but I am so glad that He said yes despite the suffering that He would endure. We say yes to Jesus because He first said yes to us, and when we teach our children of this incredible love it is only natural for them to respond in the same way.
2. Create opportunities for them to say yes to God now.
We can’t expect our children to instantly start saying yes to God when they leave our homes, if we don’t give them opportunities when they are under the guidance of our authority. Offering, small, age appropriate opportunities to say yes to God as children and teens will have a lasting impact. As young children, that may involve teaching them to tithe their allowance and donate to missions. As teens, it may mean suggesting that they refuse to work shifts during church services or giving them the opportunity to go on a short-term mission trip. In the little things, God becomes the foundation of their lives, making it so much easier for them to say yes in the big decisions.
3. Let them see us say yes to God.
When I look at my now three-year-old son, I see the impact that our yes has had on him. It has been crucial in shaping his faith. He has had a front row seat in seeing that God is faithful in the good and the bad. He has walked with us as we saw the fulfillment of the verse Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose,” and it has changed him. I am certain that he will have more confidence in his own life to say yes to God because he has seen God’s faithfulness as his parents have said yes.
Do you do certain things to encourage your children to say yes to God? I would love for you to share how do this with your children in the comments below.
Keep Saying Yes,
Stephanie Roberts of Raising the Roberts Tribe
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