If you’ve spent any amount of time with children and teens, it doesn’t take long to see that they can give those of us who have been around longer than them a fresh, valid perspective on how to handle certain situations in life. We teach them a lot, but they can also teach us quite a bit if we’re willing to listen. A look through the scriptures reveals that God often used children and the younger generation to make a difference in small and big ways. The following are a few examples:
Samuel: God called Samuel to be a prophet as a child, due in part to Samuel’s praying mother, Hannah, who dedicated him to the service of the Lord before he was born. While Samuel was a boy working for the high priest Eli, God stopped by one night to give Samuel his first assignment (1 Samuel 3). He was to prophesy against the very man who was raising him and explained how it was Eli’s sins and those of his sons that would bring judgment. Subsequently, it was spread throughout Israel that Samuel was God’s prophet even in his youth.
Servant girl of Naaman’s wife: This little girl isn’t mentioned by name, but she played an important role in the life of Naaman, the captain of the Syrian army (2 Kings 5). Naaman suffered from leprosy. The little Hebrew servant girl of Naaman’s wife knew about the miraculous powers God did through his prophet Elisha and she testified about it to her boss, who then told Naaman. Naaman believed what she said and went to Elisha and was healed.
Josiah: This king of Judah started his reign when he was 8 years old. Under his leadership, Judah experienced one of its greatest revivals which Josiah began starting with himself as he got to know the Lord for himself in his teen years. Then at the age of 20, he brought in reforms nationwide to rid Judah of idolatry and all the negatives that went with it.
Jeremiah: The son of a priest, God called Jeremiah to be a prophet when he was a child (Jeremiah 1:4-8). In fact, when God approached Jeremiah, Jeremiah was concerned about his age and said “I cannot speak; I am a child.” But God didn’t accept his “I’m just a kid” excuse and reassured the boy he would always be with him. Jeremiah may have been concerned about his lack of life experience, but that isn’t always what God looks for. He just needs a person who will listen then obey, even if they’re just a kid.
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, & Azariah: Daniel and his three friends (who became known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) were from houses of nobility in Israel and were chosen as children to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s court when they were exiled. Daniel 1:17 tells us, “As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Even though they were captives, God used them mightily as a positive force in Babylon, a land of paganism. Nebuchadnezzar found their advice, even as kids, to be “ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm,” (Daniel 1;20). When the king had a dream and threatened to kill all his advisors if the dream and its interpretation were not explained, Daniel and his three young friends got together and prayed, then God gave Daniel the answer, and the boy went before the king to explain everything.
We think of young ones as foolish or silly and inexperienced and lacking knowledge. In most cases, this may be true. However, there are always exceptions and we cannot always assume God won’t use a young person until they’re grown. Sometimes we may be required to train them to be used by God right now instead of assuming our training for them will not be useful until their 18th or 21st birthday. A look at these kids in the Bible shows they had the same traits as adults who were used by God, which are:
- Willingness to make a difference
- Personal sacrifice
- Fear of the Lord
God has always shown he is not one to play favorites based on age, ethnicity, or gender when something needs to be done for his kingdom. If someone has the required character traits God can use, who are we to despise them even if they’re young?
Harry A. Gaylord