I've joined the children's ministry at our church and we're gearing up to start a new year. In the process, the leaders are receiving some training and evaluating our own spiritual lives so we can better minister to these kids. I'm seeing areas that I need to change and ways I can draw closer to God.
When I was growing up, my church put a great deal of emphasis on the outward appearance. Girls didn't wear pants, boys had to have short hair, no shorts for either group. And so I watched as people who conformed outwardly were patted on the back by the church leadership, knowing that they were as rebellious as the non-conformists. I also watched many people who wanted to serve the Lord turned away because they didn't hold the same dress standards. Spirituality was measured by how one looked and dressed, not by a person's love for Jesus. It was discouraging for many young believers, to say the least.
I'm determined that in my own children, I will do my best to foster a love for God, knowing that is the first and great commandment. Do I want them to abide by our family's rules? Yes. But I want them to do it because they love the Lord and want to honor Him, not because they want to "perform" for us. I want them to look and act like Christians, of course. But more important than their outward appearance, I want God to have their hearts. The rest will fall into place as the Holy Spirit leads them.
And so I want to carry that over to our children's ministry. We're going to emphasize heart knowledge and not just head knowledge of Jesus. We're going to teach the young ladies to be modest and feminine. We're going to help the boys become gentlemen. We want them all to live their lives to the glory of God. But we're going to do it from the inside out.