Influencing Your Children

I was enjoying worshipping the Lord in song this Sunday when a chubby, brown arm came into my field of vision. Carliss Grace, my 2-year-old, was raising her little arm up towards heaven as I held her. She was mimicking what she has seen me do so many times before while riding on my hip during service at church. The significance of it struck me.

“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. . . And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” – Mark 10:13-14,16

The original word translated “touch” in verse 13 is haptomai. The Lexical Aids offer this insight: “Touch. Refers to such handling of an object as to exert a modifying influence upon it or upon oneself.” Then in verse 16 the word translated as “blessed” is eulogeo. It means: to speak well of, to bless. The Lexical Aids again further explains, “When we bless . . . we consecrate them to divine use.”

The disciples wanted to shoo the little children away, but Jesus made it clear that his followers were not to hinder children from coming to him. He wanted those children in close proximity. He took them in his arms for the purpose of influencing them and consecrating them to be used for his divine purposes.

We have an incredible opportunity as parents to impact our children by just having them close.

As a driven and task-oriented person, I find myself continually tempted to shoo my kids. Harold is very people oriented and sets a beautifully high standard for me in this area of parenting. He’ll say, “I’m headed to the post office to mail a package and then I’m going to get the oil changed. Any kids want to come with me?” Little people come running from all directions with shoes in hand, jumping up and down saying, “Me! Me! I want to go with you, Daddy!” And he’ll take them; he’ll take little one-year-olds; he’ll take five at a time; he’ll even take the toddler who just potty trained! Crazy man!

Keeping our kids close helps them feel loved and we are influencing them because they will emulate everything we do. This requires time and effort. I can bake bread, clean floors and trim hedges much faster and with greater ease if I don’t have little ones with me. But when I let them measure and pour the flour, sweep my dirt pile into the dustpan and chase butterflies around when they’re supposed to be bagging up the clipped branches, I am touching them in a way that can prepare them for Kingdom work.

At our side they can learn to worship, to work, to forgive, to help those in need, to be compassionate, and to use the gifts God has given them for divine purposes. The list is endless of ways we can bless them and influence them by just having them with us as we do the things God has called us to do.

As a new school year begins, why don’t we challenge ourselves as parents to make an effort to keep our children near as much as possible. To look for ways to include them and let them be at our side and in our laps.

Lord Jesus, we look to you in all things. You didn’t shoo children. Amidst great difficulty, a busy schedule and constant opposition, you took the time to bring little children near. Help us, Lord, to do the same. Show us how. And may your haptomai and eulogeo be upon our children in a mighty way.


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