Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
—Psalm 127:3–5 (NIV, 2011 )
When I was a newlywed, this passage was written in my guestbook. I remember casually glancing at the verses, thinking they had no relevance to my life at the time.
Fast forward many years. Today, I have four children whom I am privileged to raise . This passage from Psalm I now view as a bedrock of God’s promises, purposes, and strategy for raising them—the next generation.
When a child runs through your church, do you see
- Innocent and cute,
- A burden or disruption,
- Another body to increase the church membership number, or
- A “project” with whom to share the gospel?
What do you see in a newborn entering the nursery for the first time?
What do you see in that defiant, stubborn child?
Would you consider viewing each child as an ARROW to be sharpened?
Children are a reward and blessing who bring joy to their parents. But we are not called just to raise good Christian children—we are called to train up and sharpen them as arrows for God’s Kingdom.
When we adopt this thinking, we view children differently . This perspective transforms what we do in Sunday school and in our children’s ministries . It also changes how we equip parents for the task of parenting a generation to contend with their enemies unashamedly and victoriously.
Here are three areas to consider in sharpening children as arrows:
1. Sharpening a Kingdom Worldview
After children leave Sunday school, the most common question teachers hear parents ask is, “What did you learn today?” Teachers often get discouraged because five-year olds cannot remember anything but the snacks they ate. What are we passing on to our children when we open the Bible? How are we helping them to apply the Word of God in their lives?
Let us choose not to be satisfied when we hear children perfectly recite a Bible story or memorize a verse. Rather, let us pursue shaping our children’s worldview—to have a Jesus-awareness in every area of their lives.
I was blessed to have a mother who shaped within me a Christ-centered worldview throughout my childhood. I may not have been able to recall all the Bible stories I heard or perfectly recite numerous verses, but I received a deep awareness of a Holy God to whom I was accountable. I knew that no amount of fulfilling religious duties could earn His grace and salvation. When temptations came, my mother’s voice (which reflected God’s voice to me) kept me from diving full force into sin .
2. Sharpening Creative Gifts
God is a creative God. Too many of His original designs have been perverted, corrupted, or stolen by the enemy to build up his earthly kingdom.
Consider people like Bezalel and David—a skilled craftsman and a musician for the Lord, respectively. Since not all of our children have a natural bent for academics, let us sharpen and release our children into all areas of society to redeem what has been stolen from God. Imagine notable musicians, painters, poets, graphic designers, or dancers reclaiming these lost arts for the Kingdom, reflecting our creative, original God!
Recently, our church’s children’s ministry team sponsored a number of projects to tap into a variety of our kids’ latent interests. (It is amazing to see a group of young girls develop a passion for woodwork!) Many of our children are now pursuing a future in theatre and dance because these opportunities were extended to them with a Kingdom purpose.
3. Sharpening Spiritual Kinship
We are made to be in community—for the community. How will others know Christ if His Church is not united in brotherly love? We need to create an atmosphere for children of all ages within which spiritual friendships can flourish. Think of the power of spiritually healthy friends, moving forward to fulfill Christ’s mission together.
Recently, we took a small group of elementary-aged children to the shopping mall to distribute blessing cards . Over the years, God has formed strong bonds between these children—inside and outside church walls. Their spiritual kinship gave them courage to step out together into the “world” to proclaim Christ’s message. Sharing His mission gives these friends a selfless purpose in their relationships—and a bond that is powerful to witness.
4. Now Is the Time
God is jealous for our next generation. As we sharpen our children as arrows for the Kingdom, let us declare that they will pierce the darkness and walk in spiritual authority as victors in Christ. Let us cry out for God to redeem and capture their hearts for Him .