Raising Children to Adopt a Missions Lifestyle

close-up photo of mother and child holding hands with globe in them

“Mommy, what’s a missionary?” I’ve taken courses about the missions field, studied about missions, and even written about missionaries, but I struggled to answer the question in a way that would satisfy my daughter’s childlike understanding of the world.

After much thought and probably some very perplexed facial expressions, I said, “A missionary is someone who goes where God asks him to go and does what God asks him to do to help people and teach them about Jesus coming to save us from our sins.” Surely that would satisfy Julia’s mind, I thought, but her next question took my breath away.

“Mommy, are you a missionary?” My first consideration was to say I’m not, comparing myself to my many beloved missionary friends who are serving around the world. But then I thought about the definition I had just given Julia. Before I could respond, Julia intersected my thoughts.     

“Mommy, you go where Jesus wants you to go, right? And you help people. And you tell people about Jesus. So, aren’t you a missionary, Mommy?”

Moms have an incredible opportunity from God to help shape the hearts and develop the approach of children toward missions. A hands-off approach that places all missions work as the responsibility of missionaries makes being a missionary a job. A hands-on approach that embraces missions work as the high calling of every Christian makes being a missionary a lifestyle. When we allow missions to be woven into the fabric of our everyday lives, our children will follow our lead and accept kingdom work as a normal function of every Christian.

How can a mom teach a missions mind-set? Consider these lifestyle points that make or break your effectiveness in raising missions-minded children.

Sacrificial Giving

Whether it’s money, time, or your heart, are you giving all of yourself for the sake of Christ? Are you asking your children to give in a way that is truly sacrificial for them?

Surrendered Living

Do you spend your life building and maintaining walls that keep God out or tearing down walls in full surrender to God’s will for you? Do you raise awareness in your children when they begin to develop habits that conflict with their walk with Christ?

Focused Lifestyle

Are you spending your time and resources teaching your children to be successful in the world or successful in the kingdom of God? Are your children learning to draw the line when their activities interfere with their spiritual growth?

Intentional Instruction

Are you relying upon God’s wisdom to teach godly principles to your children? Are your children learning to use God’s Word as a tool for daily direction?

I ended the conversation with my daughter that night by asking her if she would go where Jesus sent her, to help people and tell them about Jesus. She and I agreed: we’re both called as missionaries in our hometown. How about it? Are you a missionary?

Author and speaker Kimberly Sowell speaks to women’s groups across the world about surrendered living.


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