“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.’ And He took them up in His arms, laid His hands on them, and blessed them.” (Mark 10:13-16)
One of the things that I love about Jesus is the way that He treated kids. While it was common in that day to marginalize children and treat them with contempt, Jesus always embraced them and made time for them. The disciples tried to push the kids away, but Jesus was “greatly displeased” with this attitude. He took them in His arms and blessed them.
Jesus once said that “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me” (Matthew 18:5). If we want to receive the fullness of Jesus in our midst, we must receive the children. They must be valued and empowered as vital members of the kingdom of God.
What does it mean to empower our kids? And how do we do this in a healthy way? Below are some examples of what it does and does not mean to empower our kids:
We should not put our kids on a pedestal or make them feel as if they are the center of the universe. They are not the center of the universe, and such treatment will cause a selfish and entitled attitude to develop in them. But we are to value them and take a genuine interest in them. We are to care about them and treat them with dignity.
Jesus warned that we are not to “despise” the little ones (see Matthew 18:10). To despise means to look down upon, belittle, or treat as unimportant. We should not treat children as if they are adults, but neither should we think less of them and treat them as “just kids.” Kids are real people! They have emotions, ideas, desires, thoughts, opinions, and creative gifts. We should see their potential to know God and be released into their gifts now, not just when they grow up.
Empowering our kids does not mean that we allow them to call all the shots and that we remove all structure and discipline from them. On the contrary, children need structure and discipline in order to thrive. But we must see them through the right lens. We must truly care about them and take a genuine interest in their lives. We must take the time to connect with them and disciple them.
Kids can tell when you genuinely care about them and see value in them. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or kids ministry director/volunteer, it is imperative that you allow God to give you His heart for the kids that are entrusted to your care. When we see them correctly, love them sincerely, and invest in them sacrificially, we will be on our way to empowering our kids.
Let’s not be like the disciples who tried to push the children away. Let’s be like Jesus who received, blessed, and empowered kids!