Who are we seeking to please? This question has been on my mind lately. Sometimes the answer is not quite so apparent as we think. Has God given you a heart for child evangelism? If asked, “Who are you in ministry for?” what would you answer?
My first response would probably be “for the children.” Would yours?
Then why is it that when we are working for a cause that we love so much and have so much passion for that sometimes we start to feel overwhelmed, stressed, and uncertain?
The answer is simple: We have lost our focus.
Dictionary.com primarily defines “evangelism” as “the preaching or promulgation of the gospel.” Child evangelism, then, is sharing the Good News of salvation with the children. Its focus must be, first, Jesus; then, children.
Where do we go wrong?
What happens sometimes, though, is we get stuck on some question. We are not sure where to find an answer so we go searching. There are a lot of people out there who are passionate about child evangelism…and there is a good chance for most of us that some of those people have had much more experience than we have had in this ministry.
In fact, it is almost guaranteed that even if you are one of those with multiple decades of child evangelism experience, there are several people out there who have thought about things from a different angle and come up with some great ideas that you had never even considered before! It is good for us to consider the advice of others.
The Bible even says in Proverbs that there is wisdom in many counselors. “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (Proverbs 15:22) But…
The sneaky change of focus
There is a problem that can come in. If we are not very careful, our focus can easily change from pleasing God to pleasing men.
At first, it may seem harmless enough as our peers encourage us to do all we can to lead children to Jesus. However, if our focus veers off of God, it will soon become difficult to discern the difference between man’s will for our lives and God’s will for our lives.
Almost imperceptibly, our “many counsellors” become our focus. Pleasing them becomes our goal.
Our hearts become proud and we start to serve (perhaps without even realizing it at first) in the hopes that people will notice the great things that “I” am doing through Vacation Bible School, or Sabbath or Sunday School, or all the unique activities we have been planning for child evangelism.
We are in danger of idolizing even a godly counselor. God demands first place in our lives–always.
Besides, other people’s perceived view of God’s will for our lives is not always (or perhaps we could say, is almost never) the same as God’s true will for our lives. Sure, it is possible that all those ideas are good in and of themselves–but which path is God leading you in personally?
The only way to truly understand God’s will for your own life is to ask Him yourself.
You must spend time daily in His Word and in prayer. You must make the moment by moment decision to listen for His voice and yield to His will in all things. Nobody else can do that for you.
Warning: Danger ahead!
So, what are some of the warning signs that you have veered out of focus?
- Uncertainty. God has said that if you acknowledge Him in all of your ways, He will direct your paths. Once you take our eyes off of Him, your path grows dark. The brightest, clearest light is directly in view of Him. Focusing on anything (or anyone) else leads to blurring shadows that only confuse your sense of direction.
- Worry. Walking in the shadows is a bit scary. You worry whether the next step is the right one or not. You know where you want to go (maybe), but you just cannot decide the best way to get there, and you worry that perhaps your child evangelism ministry is not going to succeed after all.
- Lack of true focus in your ministry. As a result of not knowing where to go, you start to go in all different directions. No effort is truly focused. One person has recommended that you would be a great fit for such-and-such position, so you accept the “call.” You read somewhere that awesome results in child evangelism are being achieved by this or that method, so you make an attempt at duplicating it. You start lots of things, but never with true satisfaction that you are on the right track. Nothing seems to be quite right.
- Neglect of your loved ones. Pretty soon, you feel so overwhelmed that your priorities are getting really mixed up. Not only are you neglecting the loving relationship with your Heavenly Father, you are neglecting your loved ones–children, parents, siblings, spouse, or special friends. It may be that you have just become so unsure of yourself that you have no strength to devote to real relationships.
- “Nit-picking”. You start to notice all the little things that you think should be done differently and you feel a need to point them all out. You have neglected the Giver of All Good Gifts, and have instead re-focused on deficiencies in yourself and others.
- Stress. All in all, this is what it all boils down to. You have lost your peace.
Someone is after you!
Now, our God is a loving, faithful, pursuing God! He will not just sit back and watch us get out of focus. He will call to our hearts constantly and repeatedly. Our safest choice is the second we recognize the call, turn around!
It is possible that you have gotten yourself extremely entangled. All of a sudden, you realize that for years you have been living with an eye, not for God’s glory, but for your own. Your child evangelism efforts, while apparently good, have been nevertheless tainted with pride. You wonder whether you have, in fact, gone in the path that the Lord truly intended for you.
Or perhaps, you just woke up yesterday morning a bit later than usual, rushed through your prayer time, and entered into your day with all of its accompanying questions and perplexities…only to realize today that you have lost your usual peace.
Never let Satan fool you into thinking things like, “You’ve already started this day off bad. It’s ruined. Maybe tomorrow will be better…” No! “Behold, now is the accepted time; Behold, now is the day of salvation!”
The outward appearance
It will do us absolutely no good to try to keep up a front, looking good for our fellowman, when our hearts are not right with God.
“Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” -Luke 16:15
You may have every person on this earth believing that you are an awesome saint…but if you know you are not at peace with God, God does, too! I know it is a hard thought. Pride is common to the human race (and I include myself in these warnings, too), but mercy is characteristic of our God.
Stop looking out for answers–and start looking up!
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” -James 4:10
A living sacrifice
Paul urges us in Romans 12:1 to present our “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.” Our question must be, “Is my offering acceptable?” In the Old Testament sacrificial offerings, God sent fire to consume the accepted sacrifice. (See for example, Leviticus 9:24; I Kings 18:38; and II Chronicles 7:1.)
Fire is often associated with the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. (See Luke 3:16 and Acts 2:3,4.) When we allow the Holy Spirit to fill our lives, He consumes our “living sacrifice” until He is all that is seen.
Our motto becomes:
“But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” -I Thessalonians 2:4
Our child evangelism efforts become more than just an outward activity. They become a heart-changing experience for both us and the children.
The other option: pleasing God
We have looked at some of the warning signs that indicate we have been too focused on pleasing men. Let’s look at the other side. What are some of the signs that we are focused on pleasing God in all things?
- Confidence. Isaiah 50:7 says, “For the Lord GOD will help me…therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Having the assurance of God on your side, you go forward with confidence. “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
- Peace. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When you seek to please God in all things, it takes a lot of burden off of you. A lot of that has to do with the next point…
- Sharp focus. You know which way to go, for it is God directing you. You do not need to worry about whose advice to follow. You consider the advice of your “multitude of counsellors”; but ultimately, it is God who makes the decision for you. Following His lead, you take the one step that He has given you for this day, leaving the rest in His hands.
- Care for all men. Putting God first in no way lessens your care for your fellowman. If He has laid the burden on your heart for child evangelism, He will also place within you a deep love for the children that could never be matched by simple human emotion or desire.
- A sense of the importance of “the work that lies nearest”. At the same time, though, you will not neglect your closest loved ones. Your family and special friends will have a special place in your heart, too–and they will know it.
- A full view of “the big picture”. Your confident focus will help you to see things for what they really are. Rather than being tempted to “judge another man’s [God’s!] servant,” you will be concentrating on keeping your own heart right with Him and going in the direction He leads. This will always tend to draw others toward Him, as well. This is the big picture. “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
- Joy. “These things have I spoken unto you, that…your joy might be full.” (John 15:11) In God’s presence “is fulness of joy”–and that’s that.
My prayer is that we, as ministers for the Lord in child evangelism live lives of blessing–not stressing!
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” -I Thessalonians 5:23,24
How do you ensure that God stays in charge of your child evangelism efforts? Leave us a comment!