Lending Your Children to God
“Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” -1 Samuel 17:28a
My 13 year old son recently told me that he is hoping to be a worship pastor when he grows up. I’m embarrassed to say that the first thought that went through my mind was “oh no!” In a nano-second I thought of having to deal with the continuous drip of criticism and expectations that a pastor has to deal with. In that same nano-second I did a mental calculation of the significantly lower income he would earn than if he were to head into a STEM-related career that he is also naturally gifted in. And then I recovered and smiled, “that’s great!”
It’s amazing how subtle and nefarious the temptation to control our children’s lives is. It’s an accumulation of small choices: when we put our kids in pre-K, where we send them to school, what activities we encourage our kids to do, what activities we say no to. What we reward, what we punish. Every moment it seems we make choices that nudge our kids.
Every morning we would do well to remind ourselves of Hannah’s words of Samuel: as long as my children live, they are lent to the Lord. If we get our hearts fully around that truth, we actually will realize that, in reality, our kids are never ours to begin with. They belong to God. In a more profound sense, they are lent to us by our Heavenly Father.
That truth ought to radically re-shape the way each of us parents. Just as I care for the property of someone else with care and attention to the true owner, so my parenting ought to focus on the true owner of my children. Where Hannah gave Samuel back to God to serve as a priest, God might ask you to steward your child in a very different manner. Perhaps he will ask you to release your expectations of your child’s financial or academic or social success. Perhaps he will ask you to steward a gift in your child that is foreign to you.