Have you ever watched a little child sitting near his father? Mothers have! While Dad sits reading his book, next to him is little Junior who as yet has not learned his ABC’s. But, there he sits on the couch with his book open. When Dad, who is miles away entrenched in his volume, turns the page, the little one watching intently, does the same. And look how Dad is sitting, there with his right leg crossed over his left for a while; and with the same posture there sits the little copycat. Dad’s leg gets tired, and without any real thought changes, lapping his left leg over his right. And, just as quickly the little impersonator does the same. Dad lifts the cup of coffee next to him for a sip, and the son follows his father’s lead by sipping his cup of water. What a precious thing to behold! What a representation of the life of a child! Yet even more definitive, what a depiction of the lives of parents!
Fast forward through the early years of development in the lives of children, to those days when reason, knowledge, and talent come crashing together in their youthful minds; when Dad and Mom start seeing their children not only catching up, but even surpassing them in talent and in leadership skills. Like the parent who sits in the audience at the school plays or recitals while they gaze up at the jewels of their sweetest love as they shine like the stars. Stirred emotions seem but a pale description of the excitement felt when our children excel.
Isaiah of old foretold of a time in the future when it would be possible for a little child to lead when peace reigned through Christ. He said, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them,” Isaiah 11:6. Most scholars say this refers to the period when Christ rules in His kingdom, as the context would demand. While we might look at the Christ-child in his infancy, and see the promise of future leadership, it is when we see Him in the temple, lost from his parents, with the teachers at the age of 12, (Luke 2:42ff), that the child-leader truly begins to be unveiled.
Similarly, it is generally around this age that children of Christians begin to show a dynamic for excelling, like at no other time. As Jesus was said to “increase in wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and man,” (Luke 2:52), from that time on, such should be seen in the life of every child. Child leadership is essential to the success of the kingdom, and the time for capitalizing on their potential is short. The window of opportunity is brief! Is a ball game, or ballet, or a recital, or a school activity, or Scouts, or anything more important than your child’s spiritual leadership development?
The challenge for the parent is a matter of where their treasures lie, cf. Matthew 6:19-21. If your treasures lie in the world, your children become means to an end in worldly leadership, such as in sports, and extra curricular activities. Yet, if your heart is truly in spiritual things, you will look toward the future in view of what the strength of the church will be. Bear this in mind, the hands in which the church will be left in your old age, are the hands you develop now in the person of your child. That means emphasis must be on the development of the spiritual above the physical. Paul said, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come,” 1 Timothy 4:8.
Our youth leadership program at Buford Church of Christ is set in place for one reason, and one reason only; the training of your children to be the best leaders they can be. The Lads to Leaders/Leaderettes program is the best program to come along in decades, and perhaps centuries, to help define and refine the leadership skills of our children. Churches where this program exists are soaring with children who are becoming great leaders in the kingdom of heaven.
Support our leadership program! As you seek to prioritize your children’s lives, do not fall into the lie of worldly gain to the exclusion of church activity. Your child’s soul demands it, and your soul depends on it. If for some reason you withhold your child from present opportunities to excel in leadership potential, what are you doing in its place to insure that the work is done? Do not be quick to poke holes in working plans that are in position, unless you have a plan to take its place; lest through your prejudice you fail in providing your child with opportunities to obtain his/her highest potential of leadership development.
Remember that the child that learns to lead today will naturally see it his duty to serve the Lord in His church tomorrow. Dad, he is still watching as you turn the page.
By Scott Harp