Earlier today I was perusing a recent issue of Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine. In it was an article where kids could discover if they were following “God-sized dreams,” or if they were just chasing earthly goals. I began to wonder how we as children’s leaders could help kids discover and pursue their own “God-sized dreams.”
What is a God-sized dream?
Kids are constantly told to “follow their dreams,” but are all dreams created equal? It is easy to get distracted by dreams that are simply our own and not part of God’s plan for us. I can tell you what a God-sized dream is not. A God-sized dream will not seek worldly goals such as money or fame. We are warned in 1 John 2:15-16: “15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”
A God-sized dream will always align with God’s will and His Word. It will seek to bring Him glory and bring others to a knowledge of the truth. Money and fame may come as a result of following that dream, but they should never be the goal.
How do we help kids pursue their God-sized dreams?
While I am continuing to pursue answers on this subject myself, here are a few tips I think are important to keep in mind.
Allow kids time to be still and listen to God.
Kids’ lives are full of noise and constant movement. Their attention is continuously pulled by television shows, the internet, and smartphones. Sometimes, our ministries reflect that constant motion. While this can be effective to gain and keep their attention, kids also need a time where they can slow down and reflect on what God is doing in their lives.
We can create this space for them, a response time where they are able to sit and quietly listen to God’s voice. It has been in times of worship and prayer where God has shown me the dreams that I need to pursue, and I remember them vividly. When we allow kids to have this time, guided by a leader who cares about them, we are giving them a chance to discuss with God the dreams He has for them.
This time must be accompanied by effective Bible study so that kids understand what a God-sized dream is and is not. They must understand that the more they read God’s Word, the easier it will be for them to discern His voice over their own wants and desires.
Teach kids it is okay to fail.
Some of the greatest successes have followed the greatest failures. Walt Disney was fired for “not being creative enough” by a local newspaper. It took Thomas Edison 1,000 unsuccessful attempts to invent the light bulb. Failure does not mean you can’t do something, it brings a better understanding of how to succeed.
Many kids won’t try because they are afraid they will fail. Many kids may feel unfit to fulfill God’s plan. Yet, it is the most unlikely people that God chooses to be a part of His plan. Share with your kids 1 Corinthians 1:26-28: “26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.”
Don’t be afraid to share failures from your own personal life to show that life does continue to go on, even if others have seen you fail.
Find kids a mentor with a similar dream.
While it is true that each person is unique and has a role that only he or she can fulfill, having the chance to be encouraged by someone who is living a similar dream can be extremely valuable. How often have we had a vision for something such as an event or idea for ministry and have been unable to figure out how to bring it to fruition? Once kids have identified their God-sized dreams, they may not know how to pursue them.
This is where the help of others comes in. If one of your kids has a dream to sing worship songs, introduce her to the worship leader. If one of your kids has a dream to preach, introduce him to a Bible college student with a similar dream. If a child wants to pursue a secular career, introduce her to someone in the congregation with a similar position who is being a light for Christ in the workplace. Maybe you will even end up with a mentee in children’s ministry!
This subject is not even close to being exhausted. However, above all, we should be good examples of what it looks like to pursue God-sized dreams. If we live our lives and pursue His will with passion and without complaint, we may inspire kids to follow God’s plan wherever it might take them. What are some other ways we can encourage children on this journey?