by Emily Vandermolen/ May 11, 2021
When I was kid, the thought of being called by my Heavenly Father was so exciting! I said "yes" even before I knew what I was saying "yes" to. Like the “follow me” call that left the disciples dropping their nets, the extraordinary thing about children is that they are fearless. They have an innocent trust and a wonder-like view of God that propels them into obedience. God loves to speak His plans and purposes to children.
Still, in the simplicity of this "follow me" invitation from Jesus, children can begin to doubt, worry, or question how this looks. Sometimes unmet expectations or fear of failure clutter what God truly intended for His children. But God can use you to bring clarity and encouragement. Let's explore some practical ways to encourage the children around you about following the call of God on their lives:
1. Your First Calling is to Jesus: "What has God called you to?" This is a little bit of a trick question. Most of our responses go straight to what we will do for God in our time here on Earth, but actually the answer is much simpler. It's himself. Strengthen kids first and foremost in their relationship with Jesus. From the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus called children to himself (Mark 10:13-14). He knew that the closer they were to Him, the better they'd hear His voice. Calling starts with being as close as you can with Jesus.
2. God Can Call You through a lot of Different Ways: How God speaks is not a one-size-fits-all expression. He can reveal His calling through a dream, a prophetic word, or a whisper to your heart. Sometimes it even looks like stepping out to do something you’ve never tried before but realizing that you love it (and you’re really good at it too!). When I was a child, I was afraid that I wasn’t going to hear God speak to me and that I’d miss His calling altogether. But the good news is that if you are walking with Jesus, you won’t miss His voice. God has a purpose and plan already mapped out for each of His children, and He can’t wait to share it with them (Jeremiah 29:11)!
3. Don’t Dismiss the Value of Preparation: In an instant-gratification world, it’s easy to minimize the value of the process. As a child, I couldn’t learn the piano in one day. I first had to learn to read notes, then play with my right hand, and finally play with both hands. It’s years and hours of practice to learn something new. Just the same, encourage kids that it’s okay to be called to something that’s way beyond their current abilities. Your calling doesn’t have to happen overnight. God cares about training your hands, strengthening your heart, and grounding your identity in Him (Psalm 144:1-2).
4. You Don’t Have to Wait to Start Walking in Your Calling: When God calls a child, He calls them as they are in that moment. It is key to grow, develop, and train. It is important to spend that time preparing and learning, but in the same regard, God has purpose behind when He calls. God speaks His plans and purposes to children, not so that they put it on a shelf until they are adults. God speaks His plans and purposes to children to jumpstart a lifelong journey of seeking His will in allseasons. Encourage a child to seek what their calling means for them today. Get them plugged in to help with worship, offering time, or even prayer for the sick, and watch how God uses His called kids.
Whether it’s inviting children to himself, speaking to them, preparing them, or beginning ministry right where they’re at, God has unique plans for children who are called. The joy, as parents, leaders, pastors, and friends, is partnering with God to do what He does best—lead His children into greater measures of His love, hope, and divine purpose.