Raising Up Global Kids

  • 6 February 2018
  • Randy Wollf

kids playing in waterHow can parents and pastors help kids develop hearts that want to live and share the gospel across cultures? My wife Lore and I have tried to do this as we raise our four children. Many of the ideas I share below are responses from my children to this very question. I’ve also added other suggestions based on my experience as a children’s pastor, church leader, and cross-cultural traveler.

Model and Celebrate Values That Support Cross-Cultural Outreach

Values give rise to consistent actions. As parents and those who have influence in the lives of children, it’s important that we model appropriate values and facilitate experiences that help children embrace these values. Global kids need to have values like compassion, curiosity, adventure, humility, patience, and self-sacrifice. When children embrace and grow these kinds of values, they are much more likely to: 

  • Build bridges with people from other cultures anywhere
  • Lovingly share the gospel with them
  • Be willing to go wherever God leads them (whether it’s across the street or around the world) 

Immerse Them in Scripture

The entire Bible is a story of God’s redemptive heart for people. We cannot engage in Scripture without acquiring something of God’s heart for the nations. With our younger children, we have typically read Bible stories to them every day from Bible story books like the Beginner’s Bible. With our youngest, who is currently five, we are using Your Every Day Read and Pray Bible for Kids and The Jesus Storybook Bible (this one in particular carefully connects every story with the gospel message). 

Pray Scripture Over Them

Don't Follow Your Heart

  • 8 July 2016
  • Keith Reed

The call to “follow your heart” is quickly jumping up the idiom ladder as one of the most socially appropriate things to say. This phrase is a slight rearrangement of Oprah Winfrey’s mantra to “be yourself” (which she admits has made her a lot of money).

Following your heart sounds like solid advice. The words carry a soft sense of familiarity that feels soothing and inviting. They also provide the right combination of ambition and responsibility that feeds our hunger for empowerment. Placed together, it sounds right and feels right. But what does this message actually mean?

If you consider the message behind these words, you’ll discover why they make you feel good. A message is only as good as its meaning and this is precisely why following your heart is bad advice.

It’s self-serving
I’m the only one who can determine what my heart says. Even my most trusted friend cannot challenge what I claim is in my heart nor can he disagree with what heart is telling me. Thus, the instruction to follow your heart is code for “do whatever you want to do.” This might not matter when you’re deciding what sandwich to order, but if you weigh all your decisions with a self-serving scale, you will experience (and create) a lot of struggles. 

It’s self-seeking
Following your own heart means your gaze will be focused inwardly instead of outwardly. This advice may work for the person who is wise and experienced, but the people who are most primed to follow their hearts are the ones who are short on experience and long on self-indulgence.

It’s self-glorifying
The key assumption in "follow your heart" is the idea that the heart is good, pure, and well-intentioned (otherwise, you would be a fool to follow it). While I would like this to be true of myself, I have to realize that the intentions of my heart are often sinful.

Five Strategies For Growing Your Character

  • 13 January 2016
  • Randy Wollf

I once took an assessment that measured my character. Big mistake! My lowest score was compassion. As a pastor, it struck me that it might be helpful to grow in this area. 

To be honest, I was tempted to ignore this unexpected (and probably inaccurate) result. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that compassion was important and it needed a boost in my life. I could look compassionate when necessary (and for a time), but it wasn’t usually coming from a heart of compassion.

I decided to try to become more compassionate.

Have you started this year with some New Year’s resolutions? Many of our resolutions focus on external behaviours like exercising more or eating less. What would happen if we started the New Year with a desire to change our hearts?

I truly believe that character is one of seven key dimensions of Christian leadership. In fact, I believe it is the defining characteristic of leadership.

Years have passed since I took that character assessment. Even though I’m still not the most compassionate person in the world, I believe that I have grown in this area (at least, I hope so).

You and I both have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to character qualities. What is one character quality that you would love to see increase this year?

Here are five strategies to help you grow in any desirable character quality:  

1. Pray for God’s Help