We’ve been watching the Olympic Trials the past two weeks and they are exciting to say the least. It’s great to see our American Athletes who have invested so much time and training compete to get to go to London and showcase their talent. In swimming it seems like the elite athletes get younger every year and the introduction of coaches into their lives to guide them in honing their talent at a young age is paying off great dividends. In most sports there is kind of a “pecking order” that young athletes have to go through age wise to get to the place they can compete alongside other older athletes. Not swimming! The muscles used in swimming can be developed at a young age and the ability to glide through water at a fast pace doesn’t begin when an athlete is 18-20, but more like 8-12. I like to see fresh young faces developing their potential, if possible, at a young age and seeing the fruit of an early commitment to their sport. No more, “some day you will grow up and get a chance to pursue something you have right now.” Today is the day!!!
I think this brings to mind a very important aspect of parenting or mentoring a child or youth. Too many times we don’t develop that early faith after they accept Christ as a child. We think all this Christian stuff is way over their head! But in reality, all we are doing is doubting how capable a child is from the moment they give their heart to Christ. Of course, they are still just “kids.” Which is also a name for a young goat…..Go figure. I’m not talking about “cramping their style” when it comes to living out their childhood or youth years. I am talking about where God fits into this quotient. I believe we should challenge them in their faith to the point that their minds and their hearts have a chance to respond to the deep questions of life, and thus give them the chance to find those answers early in life. Answers that are vital to molding them in their faith and deepening their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The world, including a very informative media, starts indoctrinating them from birth and we accept that like it’s nothing. After 18 years of seeing the world’s perspective and possibly just attending church or Sunday School without relevant discipleship, puts the maturing process for those young believers at risk. The old term “garbage in garbage out” definitely applies here, and the introduction of basic Christian principles when a youth gets 16 years old is just too late. Those “kids” who should be taking their world by storm for Christ, waver between;” should I wear makeup at age 10?”; “or how far can I go on the first date at age 14?” , or “how far can I drift away from God and still keep my parents happy?” Why does this happen? It’s easy!! They are being treated like children when it comes to following Christ, but adults when it comes to handling all this worldly influence. This just won’t work, and of course, we know it’s not working now. We read in Proverbs 22:6, “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” and think that means praying at a meal, attending church events, or even reading their Bible every day. It doesn’t mean that at all. What it means is “teach your child how to live a victorious life in Christ!” When? Now!! Don’t wait. Explain your faith to them and why you do what you do. Let them know the joy you have in serving Christ. Challenge them to greatness in response to the new life they have in Christ. How often? Every day and throughout the day. Make plans for them with teachable moments and be a vibrant person of instruction in their life. I hear parents saying things like, “I just pray every day that little Johnny will be able to handle this big ole world….” Blah, blah, blah!! Don’t end it with a desperate prayer and no instruction. That’s not what God wants you to do. He wants to you to offensively show who He is to your child or youth and develop who they are in Him. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12 and said, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” Paul didn’t just say, “go out there and do whatever you want because you are young.” He poured his life into Timothy and he knew that God could do great things through Timothy because he knew who Christ really was. Timothy was trained!! In the same way that those young swimmers are now coming to the forefront, young believers who have developed their faith will too. IF WE TRAIN THEM, AND THEN LET THEM SERVE!! Now is the time to take off the shackles and let them go, but not before we have shown them where to go and how to go. Then they will represent their Savior in Life’s Olympics with a vibrant witness, and a pure passion to serve Him. Life’s Games are waiting to be won. Are you willing to see the greatness of Christ in your child or youth and spur them on to great things in Christ. What’s holding you back?
The Pilgrimage continues…..