I love Caller I.D., mainly because I don’t like to talk on the phone. When I receive a phone call I can see who is calling and make the decision as to whether I will answer or not. Often when I look at the caller I.D., one of three feelings comes into play: excitement, indifference, or dread.
In my years as a youth pastor, I have seen these same emotions from parents when they hear that their child has potentially received a “call” from God. There are parents who feel honored, blessed, and a sense of spiritual accomplishment when their child tells them they want to go into full-time Christian service. There are parents who show no emotion, view it as just another profession, and could really care less. Then there are parents who fear the worst because their child won’t make enough money or won’t carry on the family business or won’t be doing what the parents always wanted them to do.
I’ve seen all of these emotions in parents of students who believe they are called into ministry.
So, what does a parent do when their child tells them that they believe that God is calling them into full-time Christian ministry?
Honestly, there are a number of ways to respond to this question depending on the scenario and the initial response of the parent. For the sake of this post, let’s assume that you are reading this with the feeling of excitement that your child has been called by God into Christian service. I may address the other responses in a later post.
One of the best examples in Scripture of parents nurturing the call of God in the lives of their children is Eunice in the New Testament. Eunice was the mother of Timothy, the protégé of the Apostle Paul. There isn’t much that the Bible tells us about Eunice, but what the Bible does tell us can give us a few hints and principles that parents can apply in nurturing the call of God in lives of their children.
In the second letter of Paul to young Timothy, Paul states, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well (2 Timothy 1:5).” We see that both Eunice and Lois were believers. Acts 16:1 also tells us that Eunice was a Jewish believer, and that Timothy’s father was a Greek. The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about Timothy’s father other than the fact that he was a Greek. Now this could mean that Timothy’s father was a heathen and didn’t know Christ, or that he did know Christ but was ethnically Greek, and some scholars believe that Timothy’s father had died prior to Timothy’s own conversion. Regardless of who Timothy’s father was, the fact is that there is no mention of his spiritual influence in Timothy’s life. Yet, on at least two different occasions, the faith of Timothy’s mother, Eunice, is recognized.
So what can we, as parents, learn from Eunice in how to nurture the call of God in the lives of our children?
- Model the Christian Life for Your Child
It’s obvious that Eunice modeled the Christian life in front of her son. Paul refers to the faith of Eunice as “sincere” and he recognized the faith of Eunice being lived out as he knew of the faith that dwelt in her. Many scholars believe that Paul personally led Eunice, Lois, and Timothy to Christ on his first missionary journey, but Paul’s reference to their faith here reveals that it was a genuine conversion being proven by the lives they were living.
Eunice was living her Christian life out in front of her son, Timothy, and this was making an impact not just for eternity, but also for his professional career.
Parents, one of the greatest things that you can do for your children, whether called by God into full-time Christian service or not, is to live the Christian life in front of them. If you desire to nurture the call of God in the life of your children, then show them your submissiveness to His leading and His commands in your life. Let them see your faith and trust in God in times of joy, sorrow, frustration, uncertainty, and contentment.
- Teach Your Children the Word of God
2 Timothy 3:15 states, “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings…” Eunice was active in teaching her son, Timothy, what the Bible taught even as a young boy. Not only was she living out her faith, but she was also instructing Timothy in the faith according to the Word of God. Timothy had a working knowledge of the truths of God’s word, which made him “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Parents, nurturing the call of God in the lives of your children must be grounded in the truths and principles of the word of God. The Bible tells us 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.” It is the responsibility of us, as parents, to train up our children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).” Eunice was active in this responsibility, and it nurtured the call of God in the life of her son, and it will nurture the call of God in the life of your children as well.
- Challenge Your Children to Live Godly Lives
Paul teaches the saints in Thessalonica, “For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12).” Eunice must have challenged Timothy to live out his faith in a “manner worthy of God” because in the account in Acts 16, Timothy was “well-spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium (Acts 16:2).” Timothy was living out his faith, as modeled and taught to him by his mother, and no doubt exhorted, encouraged, and charged by her as well.
One of the greatest challenges in today’s church is the perceived lack of character and integrity of those in Christian leadership before an unbelieving world. Too frequently we hear of those in Christian leadership having to suspend their ministries due to immorality and failed leadership. Parents, we are to challenge our children to live lives of high character, morality, integrity, and godliness. We need to exhort, encourage, and charge our children to live lives that will not disqualify them for the service of the Lord in full-time Christian ministry.
- Expose Your Children to Ministry
It is apparent that Eunice intentionally exposed her son to ministry. She was the one who brought Timothy to hear the word of God preached by Paul, which led to his conversion. She was the one who continually exposed him to daily ministry to the point where Timothy was known and spoken well of among the Christian brethren. She was the one who continued to expose Timothy to the ministry of the Apostle Paul to the extent that Paul requested for Timothy to accompany him on his missionary journeys and refer to him as his “true child in the faith (1 Timothy 1:2).” Eunice was intentional in exposing her son to ministry as often as possible.
Parents, one of the most practically beneficial things you can do to nurture the call of God in the life of your children is to expose them to as many aspects of ministry as possible. Allow your children to attend church, youth group, and special events. Allow your children to serve in whatever capacity they desire in the church. Allow your children to go on mission trips, service projects, and community outreach events with the church. In doing so, we heed the instruction of Paul to young Timothy when he says, “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you (2 Timothy 1:6).” By exposing your children to ministry, you better equip them to be able to discern the call of God in their own lives.
- Pray for Your Children
Finally, as parents, we ought to do as Paul did for young Timothy when he said, “I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day (2 Timothy 1:3).” Through the little that we know of Eunice, I am sure that she did this same thing for her son.
Parents, there is nothing more nurturing than to pray for your children, whether called to full-time ministry or not, every night and day. But for our children who believe God is calling them into full-time ministry, it is even more nurturing and important. Satan does not want your child to serve God in any capacity, which means that he will always be out to hurt, discourage, and disqualify them. Our children need prayer protection and covering every minute of every day of their lives, because Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8);” and who better to devour than those who believe God is calling them into full-time Christian ministry?
There are so many ways in which parents, whether excited, indifferent, or dreadful, can nurture the call of God in the lives of their children. Believe me, this is not a comprehensive list…but when you find out that God has potentially called your child, this list is a good place to start.