24 May 2019
Paul Tripp says “A moment of crisis is a moment of ministry”. This is particularly true in parenting. When a child is in tears, when something has gone wrong, they look to us, as parents, to fix it. And our natural instinct will be to stop the pain – to give them something to make them happy again.
But what if we used that moment for ministry – used it as an opportunity to point them to Jesus? After all, we know as Christians that our loving Heavenly Father is always at work in our lives (including our crises) teaching us to love and trust him more.
We, as Christian parents, have the opportunity to help our children experience that for themselves. Which will not only help them in this moment of crisis, but also train them to turn to God in future crises – even when we are not there to prompt them.
Here are some things to remember that will help us to use these ‘ministry moments’ well:
• God’s truth speaks to the reality of our everyday lives. There is something that is true about Jesus that is relevant in this moment. If you’re unsure how the Bible addresses this particular problem, ask an older, wiser Christian to help you think about it.
• Don’t panic if you can’t quote a specific verse word for word, including the reference. It is better to remind your child that Jesus is always with them, than to say nothing because you’ve never memorised Matthew 28:20!
• Ask questions, and listen well. In our desire to fix the situation we might want to jump straight in and tell them what they should do or think. Try to hold back on answers, and let them work things out for themselves by asking questions that move the conversation along.
• Children are keen to please and may give the answer that they think you want to hear. Encourage them to keep talking, and it may be the 2nd or 3rd answer that reveals what they really think.
• Simple drawings of their answers (eg using stick figures) can help focus a conversation on a real-life situation. Younger children may find it hard to concentrate without anything visual.
• Every person is different. Conversations with one child will be different to conversations with another. Every parent will approach things in their own way. You can learn from other Christian parents, and from your church’s children’s ministry leaders, but you don’t have to sound just like them. Be yourself.
• Some situations are more serious and may need other kinds of help as well. For example, every anxious child will be helped by knowing that Jesus is always with them, but children with severe anxieties may also benefit from specialist help.
• Pray with your child (and encourage them to pray) in that moment. The goal is to enable them to turn to God for help in their difficulty, rather than just work out the ‘right answer’.
For more on this topic, including an example conversation about anxiety, between Ed Drew and a 6 year old, listen to Episode 11 of the Faith in Parents podcast, which can be found here.
By guest author: Cathy Dalton