Leading Your Children into the River
The Christian bookstores are full of books on child training and discipline, but very few books have been written on how to set your child’s heart on fire for God. I want to share with you four important steps for leading your children into the River of God’s presence.
Step One: Jump In the River
The first step in leading your children into a passion for God is for you to be passionate about Him yourself. If you want your young people to be flowing in the revival, then it’s important that Mom and Dad flow in the revival and that you attend a church that is flowing in revival.
Children and youth learn by imitating the examples of others, especially their parents, their church, and their peers. The word, “example,” in the dictionary it means “something worthy of imitation.” In 1979, I was helping a pastor pioneer a church in Port Huron, Michigan. One Sunday morning, we had a Holy Ghost service. On this particular Sunday after the service, one little girl, two and one-half years old, named Jennifer went home and gathered all of her dolls along the wall in her bedroom. She prayed for each doll laying hands on each one as she had seen the adults do in church that morning. Then, Jennifer knocked her dolls over on the floor and put little handkerchiefs over their dresses. What Jennifer was doing was imitating, and it is the most common way children learn.
Step Two: Believe That God Will Empower Your Children
Realizing that your children are imitating you is the first step, but parents must also believe that God can use their children. In 1 Samuel 3, we find the story of Samuel and Eli the High Priest. This story is biblical proof that God is able to use children in a powerful way.
The teacher must have faith that God will speak to the child in order for the child to be taught that he is hearing from God.
Hannah who eventually became Samuel’s mother was barren. This desperate woman made a promise to God that if He would give her a son; she would give him to the Lord for the ministry. God heard the cry of Hannah and answered her prayer. She conceived and gave birth to a strong, healthy boy naming him “Samuel,” which means “asked of God.” When Samuel was weaned, Hannah brought him to the temple, and she wasn’t looking for daycare! She gave him to Eli to train for the ministry. One night after Eli went to sleep, God spoke to Samuel four times before Samuel was able to receive the word from God. Why? Because “Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord revealed to him.”” (I Samuel 3:7)
Why hadn’t Eli already been teaching Samuel about knowing the Lord and hearing from God? Perhaps he thought, like a lot of adults do, that God can’t use children until they “grow up.” Did you notice that Samuel did not receive the word from God until his teacher believed that he could? The teacher must have faith that God will speak to the child in order for the child to be taught that he is hearing from God. Once you believe that God will speak to your children, you must take the next step, which is exposing your children to revival.
Step Three: Expose Your Children and Youth to Revival
Arthur Wallis, author of the revival classic, IN THE DAY OF THY POWER, wrote, “The generation that has never seen a display of God’s power is more likely to go the way of the world than the generation that has witnessed such a mighty work.” It is vital that your youth and children be exposed to revival if you want them to be passionate for Jesus. Many times, parents and even pastors think it is easier to have a move of God without the children, but this is a grave mistake.
I want my children right in the middle of the anointing of God.
Many years ago, I was attending a healing crusade with about two thousand people in attendance. Before the meeting began, the crusade director made an announcement, “We don’t want any children to be seated in the first ten rows because we don’t want to disturb the anointing of God.” I was in shock! I want my children right in the middle of the anointing of God. It is attitudes like those that push our children away from a love relationship with Jesus.
Don’t misunderstand me. I believe strongly that parents need to train their children to sit and respect what God is doing in the service. But while it may seem like an easy solution to simply provide entertainment for the children, we are sacrificing our children and the future of the revival if we take this approach.
Today it is vital that our teens and children be exposed to the power of God. If revival breaks out at your church, make ways to include the youth and the kids. If revival doesn’t come to your church, take them to a church where revival is. One experience with the Holy Spirit can change a young person’s life forever. Once children are being touched by God themselves, it’s time for the next step, developing their leadership qualities.
Step Four: Let the Children Lead
It’s no small statement in Isaiah 11:6, “…And a little child shall lead them.” Why can’t we recognize the leadership qualities in our children and youth and develop them before the devil does? It’s easy for a parent or a teacher to recognize leadership gifts in their children. Anyone who spends several hours observing a group of children can pick out who the leaders are. People who have leadership gifts will always find a way to use their gifts positively or negatively. Why not find a place for children to use their leadership gifts before they end up pulling against you?
I once witnessed a powerful move of God in a revival service that involved a child’s leadership. At the time, I was the children’s pastor at a church and had asked a friend of mine, Bill Bush, to be the speaker at our summer kids’ camp. Instead of performing a puppet or drama skit, Bill simply stood up at the front of the chapel with a rock in his hand.
“Boys and girls,” Bill said. “I was driving to camp tonight and the Lord spoke to me to stop my van and pick up this rock that was on the side of the road. He told me to tell you that some of you here are like this rock. You have a hard heart.”
At this point I wondered where Bill was going with this.
“Some people don’t think you can have a hard heart unless you’re lost, but you can harden your heart toward God just like you can harden your heart toward a friend. How do you know if you have hardened your heart toward God? Do you have a hard time going to church? Do you have a hard time lifting your hands or dancing during worship? Do you have a hard time witnessing to your friends about Jesus?”
Bill went on to say, “If that is you, if you’ve hardened your heart toward God, then I want you to come down to the front, repent and ask God to forgive you for having a hard heart.”
For about five or ten seconds nothing happened. You could hear a pin drop. I thought to myself, “Maybe Bill missed it. That was a hard word. If this doesn’t work, the service is over.”
The choices you make as parents can have a major influence on your children.
Chris was a 12-year-old boy who was the class clown. He was on the ministry team and helped me with puppets, but he was never serious about anything. After about 5 or 10 seconds of quiet, Chris suddenly stood up from the back row and ran down to the altar. When Chris ran to the altar, the presence of the Holy Spirit swept suddenly into the room. A spirit of prayer and repentance fell on the chapel. Everyone, adults and children alike, began to weep and most of us ran to the altar to repent for having a hard heart. We spent an hour up at the altar repenting, weeping, and praying. It was one of the most powerful services I have ever been in, and it had been a 12-year-old boy that had led us into that revival.
While only the Holy Spirit can set your child’s heart on fire for God, the choices you make as parents can have a major influence on your children. I believe if you follow these four steps with a sincere heart, you will begin to see a positive response from your child to this outpouring of the Holy Spirit.