Too frequently I have heard from parents that their pastors and churches are discouraging them from allowing their kids to enter the mission field. Helicopter parents are being trained by pastors, who are themselves helicopter parents, that the right thing to do is hold onto your children, protect them from danger and keep them away from uncertainty. This teaching is contrary to Scripture. It is a result of a generation of overbearing parents who are willing to embrace the sovereignty of God, except in parenting.
A healthy, God-honoring church would welcome parents into their church by explaining, “The purpose of our church is to help you raise your children in the ways of the Lord and send them out into the world, into harms way, so they can glorify God.” Indeed, children are a gift from God (Ps 127:3), but not for our pleasure. Instead, our children are for God’s glory.
Parents Train Your Children
Our children have not been given to us so we can incase them in bubble wrap and protect them from the world. Our children have not been given to us so they can get the best college education or be trained for a white collar job. Our children belong to the Lord and he has entrusted us with them for a short time so we can train them in his ways (Prov 22:6, Joel 1:2-3, 1Pet 5:3, Dt 4:9-10, 11:19). Parents are to discipline their children, but this discipline is not about good behavior or house chores. Parents are to discipline their children to be obedient to the Lord’s commands (Prov 13:24, 19:18-19, 23:13, 29:15, 29:17, Eph 6:4).
In training our children we are to encourage them to live their lives and sacrifice their lives for the Lord’s will. If we are training children to dedicate their lives to the Lord, up to the point of discomfort, but no further, we are not training our children in the ways of the Lord. Our lives are a living sacrifice to the Lord (Rom 12:1). Our children should be raised knowing that a disciple of Christ lives his life as a living sacrifice to the Lord, no matter the cost.
Children Obey Your Parents
Christian parents raise our kids so they know that God commands them to honor their father and mother (Exo 20:12, Dt 5:16). The assumption of this commandment is that a child is being raised by a God-honoring parent. Nobody would suggest that a child should obey a parent who tells their kid to walk into traffic. Children are to honor parents who are teaching them the ways of the Lord. Obeying parents is ultimately about obeying the Lord. When a parent tells a child they should (contrary to Rom 12:1-2) not live their life as if it were a sacrifice to the Lord, should the child obey?
Children are to receive and obey Godly training (Prov 1:8-9, 10:1, Eph 6:1-4, Col 3:20) from God-honoring parents. Why then are there so many parents training their children to avoid fulltime ministry, stay off of the mission field, and obey the Lord as long as it costs them nothing? A parent who advises his child to stay off the mission field because it is hard, dangerous or scary is worthy of disobedience from their child.
Children Glorify The Lord
Parents should be thrilled to have a child who wishes to live a life dedicated to service in the Lord. A child who wishes to serve the Lord in a dangerous location is a child who has been trained that their life is to be dedicated to God’s glory. The only reason parents have been entrusted with God’s children is to raise them so they understand they are here to bring God glory (Gen 18:19, Ex 20:12, Lev 19:3, Ps 78:2-8, Jos 4:20-24, Lu 1:17, Act 2:28-39, 1Tim 5:3-4).
If our children are raised to be God-honoring we should be thrilled when they commit their lives to missions in a risky way. How beautiful to know that we as parents have done our job so well our children are willing to give all for God’s glory.
The Greatest Commandment
Deuteronomy chapter six instructs us on the Greatest Commandment. We are called to love the Lord, not unenthusiastically, but with all our heart and soul and might. The Lord’s instructions are to be on our heart and we are to teach the Lord’s will to our children. God’s words are to be a lifelong dedication to all disciples of the Lord. We should never forget the Lord, nor place anything ahead of him. And, we are to instruct our children to dedicate themselves to the Lord.
Moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, you have been entrusted with a child of God. You are to love them and teach them the Lord’s ways, not the ways of the world. Your love for your child is not in question. However, the focus of that love is. Do you love your child enough to send them into to missions? Do you love your child enough to help them pack their bags and drive them to the airport so they can serve the Lord in a closed country? Do you love your children enough to trust them to the Lord?