I invited six-year-old Maria to assist me with a Sunday school lesson. As she came to the front of the room, she pointed to my Bible and asked, “Is my name in there?”
Feeling the Holy Spirit’s prompting, I replaced the activity with a much-needed moment of affirmation for all those Maria’s out there. OK, maybe the Luke’s, Jonah’s, Ruth’s, and Esther’s of this world enjoy pointing out the Bible books sporting their names. What about all those Maria’s, Jasmine’s, Blake’s, and Danté’s?
Our kids read and learn about Bible characters all the time, but many do not understand that they are Bible characters, boys and girls that God longs to use in His big story? As parents, how can we help them grasp this concept? Here are some suggestions.
Watch Your Language
The Bible is God’s story, not David’s, Paul’s, or Mary’s. God is the main character, but He graciously chooses to use people in His plans. We can convey this idea through a subtle shift in our words. The next time you cuddle up with your child for a Bible bedtime story, don’t say, “Let’s read about Daniel.” Instead say, “Let’s read part of God’s story. In this part, God will use a man named Daniel.” Put the focus on God and His ability to use anyone, including your child, as a supporting character in His story.
Put Things in Perspective
Many children view the Bible as a collection of true stories that happened a long time ago when men wore bathrobes in public and donkeys were the main mode of transportation. This view leads to the faulty idea that God’s story is finished. To help your kids understand that God’s story continues today, literally show them where the modern time in which we live fits in.
Open your Bible and flip to the section where the last page of Jude and the first page of Revelation meet. Have your child put his finger in that spot. Explain that all the Bible events up through Jude have already taken place, but that most the book of Revelation describes future events. We are living in the part of God’s story in-between. God is still at work and He still uses people in our day, even young ones.
Share Stories about Children
Give examples of young supporting characters in God’s story and talk about how God used them. Begin with these children from Old and New Testament times:
- Samuel, a boy who listened to God’s voice and spoke God’s truth (1 Samuel 3:1, 8-10)
- A servant girl who pointed a needy family to the true God (2 Kings 5:1-3)
- Josiah, a boy king who modeled a godly life in a sinful nation (2 Kings 22:1-2)
- Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, youths who took a counter-cultural stand for God (Daniel 1,3)
- A boy who willingly shared his resources and watched as God multiplied them (John 6:1-14)
Share accounts of children down through history as well as modern-day boys and girls who have stepped into God’s story in your children’s lifetime. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Read or watch missionary biographies for children (see recommended resources at weavefamily.org).
- If you have loved and followed Jesus since childhood, make sure to share your own faith journey with your children.
- If members of your extended family have loved and served Jesus since childhood, set up a time for your children to ask them questions about their faith journey.
- If you know believers who were called into fulltime ministry or global work as children or youth, invite them for a meal with your family. Have them share how God directed them from childhood.
- Search online for “kids making a difference” and you’ll find lots of stories of boys and girls who are impacting our world today. Some websites do not have a Jesus-centered focus, but the stories may inspire your children and get their creative juices flowing.
Create Some History
Our kids need to know that God has a purpose for every generation of believers and that God blesses and equips us to join with Him in unique ways. Share Ephesians 2:10 with your children: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Talk about the gifts, talents, passions, and resources that God has given to your family. Plan 3-4 service or outreach projects a year that utilize these blessings.
Just like Maria, our own children want to know, “Is my name in there?” As parents, we can affirm their place as supporting characters in the greatest story ever written, a story that is still unfolding today.