One of the greatest responsibilities of a pastor is helping the people in his care to spiritually grow and reach for their personal destinies. Tapping into their spiritual gifts is often key to this long sometimes painful process. No matter how bumpy the road, it’s the shepherd’s duty to help the sheep discover what is unique about each of them. It is a pastor’s God calling to stir up the minds and spirits of believers with questions like these. “What makes me vital to the kingdom of God? What spiritual gifts lay dormant inside me that will bring glory to God? How do I activate them?”
While we probably all agree that this is one of the chief mandates of the senior pastor, what about the children’s pastor? Is he or she to reject that mandate on the grounds that their sheep are just too little? Too underdeveloped? Too childish?
Jesus praised his Father because of His practice of using foolish things to confound those who think themselves wise. Isn’t it possible these words of Jesus also apply here? As a children’s leader you have the responsibility of helping to develop the next wave in the army of God. The movers and shakers of God’s now and future kingdom are in your children’s church or ministry every week. How foolish does that sound? But how very true it really is. Recognizing spiritual gifts in your kids should be one of your chief endeavors. But how to go about that?
Before you begin there are few things you should know. 1 Corinthians 12:11 says, “All of these (spiritual gifts) are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one just as he determines.” While our job is to help the young Christian discover their gifts and hone them, it’s the Spirit’s sole discretion as to who receives each gift.
Secondly, remember there is a difference between natural talent or ability and a Spirit given gift. The apostle Paul had a great ability to lead others and had a natural zeal for the things of God. However while he was still yet named Saul he was greatly in error! It was the Spirit of God that reshaped that natural zeal into the passionate apostle that is admired by so many today. As children’s ministers we have to look past the surface gifts and allow God to help us see potential that’s not obvious.
Lastly know that sometimes God will hide a gifting to reveal it at a future time. It may not be your task to see and release that gift into the child’s life. In this, you must acquiesce to the Spirit of God.
6 Practical Steps To Recognize the Spiritual Gifts In Kids
1. Study: Dig into God’s word to refresh your understanding of spiritual gifts.
2. Pray: Ask God to give you wisdom and discernment while undertaking this endeavor.
3. Talk: Share with your Senior Pastor and support staff what’s on your heart. Ask for advice and talk about any concerns either of you may have.
4. Listen: In order to recognize the spiritual gifts in your children you’ll have to spend time with them. That will more than likely longer than an hour on Sundays. Be an active listener when interacting with kids. Listen to their hopes and dreams. God is in there somewhere!
5. Ask: Besides prayer, ask the Spirit pointed questions about each child. Be like Samuel when searching for a new king and ask, “What about this one?”
6. Teach: Kids don’t know there are gifts to be had if you aren’t telling them. Teach about spiritual gifts on a regular basis. Challenge kids to ask God personally about their own gifts.