The Shunammite Woman’s Son – II (Synopsis of Come Ye’ Children – Chapter 23)
We have now come to the final chapter of Spurgeon’s book of advice to those who work with kids both in church and as parents. In this final chapter, Spurgeon continues to examine what we can learn from the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman’s son. He turns first to the location where the dead boy was placed and the method by which Elisha raised the boy. Spurgeon notes that:
“The great secret lies in a large measure in powerful supplication.”
Elisha went into the room, shut the door, and prayed to the Lord. As teachers and workers in Children’s Ministry, our power must come from God, and that power comes in large part through prayer. Spurgeon explains:
“So it is with you; every real teacher’s power must come from on high. If you never enter your closet and shut to the door, if you never plead at the mercy-seat for your child, how can you expect that God will honour you in its conversion?… You will see your children converted when God gives you to individualise their cases, to agonize for them, and to take them one by one, and with the door closed to pray with them and for them. There is much with more influence in prayer privately offered with one than in prayer publicly uttered in the class—not more influence with God, of course, but more influence with the child. Such prayer will often be made its own answer; for God may, while you are pouring out your soul, make your prayer to be a hammer to break the heart which mere addresses had never touched.”
Spurgeon pleads that we pray individually for the kids in our ministry. Find out their needs and pray for them. Pray with them. Recognize their greatest need (for Jesus Christ) and pray earnestly for that.
Following prayer, Elisha’s next step was to take action (which Spurgeon refers to as the means). Prayer and means must go hand-in-hand. Spurgeon elaborates on the necessity of action:
“Means without prayer—presumption! Prayer without means—hypocrisy!”
In order to raise a child from spiritual death, we must feel that death deep within our souls:
“God would have you come into contact with that death by painful, crushing, humbling sympathy…If you would raise that dead child, you must feel the chill and horror of that child’s death yourself… I cannot believe that you will ever pluck a brand from the burning, without putting your hand near enough to feel the heat of the fire. You must have, more or less, a distinct sense of the dreadful wrath of God and of the terrors of the judgment to come, or you will lack energy in your work, and so lack one of the essentials of success… Depend upon it, when the death that is in your children alarms, depresses, and overwhelms you, then it is that God is about to bless you.”
Elisha’s means was to lie on top of the boy in order to revive him. He physically put himself in the position of the boy in order to bring about the resurrection. Likewise, we must find a way to put ourselves in the position of children in order to lead them to salvation:
“you must next strive to adapt yourself as far as possible to the nature, and habits, and temperament of the child. Your mouth must find out the child’s words, so that the child may know what you mean; you must see things with a child’s eyes; your heart must feel a child’s feelings, so as to be his companion and friend; you must be a student of juvenile sin; you must be a sympathiser in juvenile trials; you must, so far as possible, enter into childhood’s joys and griefs. You must not fret at the difficulty of this matter, or feel it to be humiliating. If anything difficult be required, you must do it, and not think it difficult. God will not raise a dead child by you if you are not willing to become all things to that child, if by any possibility you may win its soul”
In order to teach kids, we have to understand them. We have to put ourselves in their position. We must understand their culture, their fears, their desires and their routines. We must learn to think like they think and speak such that they can understand. In order to be effective in children’s ministry we must become keen observers of kids and their world. Spurgeon explains the type of person necessary to do this work:
“He is no fool who can talk to children; a simpleton is much mistaken if he thinks that his folly can interest boys and girls. It needs our best wits, our most industrious studies, our most earnest thoughts, our ripest powers, to teach our little ones. You will not quicken the child until you have “stretched” yourself; and, though it seems a strange thing, yet it is so. The wisest man will need to exercise all his abilities if he would become a successful teacher of the young.”
Working with kids is not easy. I actually find the challenge of it to be one of the most exciting parts of this ministry. If it comes too easily to you, you are probably not investing as much of yourself as you should. Children’s Ministry should be such that it requires you to stretch yourself in order to succeed.
The result of Elisha’s actions was that the boy was raised. That should be our goal as well:
“Here, then, is the secret. You must impart to the young your own soul; you must feel as if the ruin of that child would be your own ruin… Never be satisfied with finding your children in a barely hopeful state, What you want is not mere conviction, but conversion; you desire not only impression, but regeneration. Life, life from God, the life of Jesus. This your scholars need, and nothing less must content you.”
Salvation and discipleship are our goals, and we must never lose sight of either. I hope this synopsis (and Mr. Spurgeon’s book) have convicted you, helped you and provide you with some ideas to further succeed in Children’s Ministry. God bless you, and may God bless the children in your ministries.
Links to Complete Text
If you’re interested in reading the complete text of “Come Ye Children,” it can be found on at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc.htm
The complete text of Chapter Twenty-Three can be found at: http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/cyc23.htm
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