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“When I Grow Up…”

I have often heard the phrase, “Children are the church of tomorrow.” I wholeheartedly agree. One day they will be leading, pastoring churches, running ministries, taking the gospel to foreign nations as missionaries, leading worship, and all the things that our adults are doing now. However, the statement in itself is incomplete. Yes, they are the “church of tomorrow” and worth investing our children’s and youth ministries into. Yet, they are also the “church of today.” They can lead. They can sing. They can participate. They can pray. They have needs. They have desires. They have souls. Not just tomorrow. Today.

One night during our weekly Kids Prayer ministry meeting I asked the kids what they wanted to do with their lives. The answers to the question ranged from the typical doctor, fireman, and I Colleen Clabaugh 14 policeman, to worship leader, teacher, and missionary. You could see excitement on the faces of each of them as they shared their dreams. Some acted out their future roles while others talked about what they would be doing and how. No one was sad. No one was crying. Yet I found myself with feelings of angst and remorse as four words which prefaced each answer echoed in my head: “When I grow up . . .”

Sadly, those things that make our young people so happy are things they feel they cannot attain until they are grown. It is true a ten-year-old cannot be a police officer and a seven-year-old cannot extinguish apartment fires. But what about those who wish to sing worship songs or be a missionary? Johnny may not be able to travel to China to share the gospel in an underground church, but he can reach his neighbor or go on a local missions trip. Sally may not be able to run an entire adult choir, but she can sing a worship song in Sunday school, Children’s Church, Kids Prayer ministry, or for a nursing home meeting.

The tragedy I’ve seen over and over is the numerous youth who have had desires for ministry but left church and God before they could do it. They keep saying “one day” and “when I grow up” and then find themselves backslidden away from God, giving the world their best instead.

“When I grow up” should never be an excuse for them to not do something for God today. If God fills them with the same Holy Spirit that you and I are filled with as adults, then they have access to the same power of God that we do. What a shame it would be if we squandered it, thinking that our young people were not wise enough or old enough to use it. What a shame it would be if we remained satisfied to have our kids simply pray over snack or an evening meal instead of praying for the sick and for miracles to occur. I’ll go beyond shame to call it an absolute tragedy. As parents, leaders, pastors, and mentors it’s our job to be the spiritual coach in the lives of our young people. We are not to be the quarterback, running all the plays ourselves. We must allow our children to play in the game of life, as skilled players who are always training to become better.

Let’s train our kids today, and let’s start that by training them to pray!

Excerpt taken from “Therefore, I Train“.

Colleen Clabaugh
Kids & Youth Prayer Coordinator
World Network of Prayer


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