April 27, 2023 | Matt Angell
“I want to be a dog groomer and breeder when I grow up” is the response you will get from my daughter if you ask her who she wants to be when she gets older. It is a sweet answer and totally in line with her current passions. Previously it was veterinarian and horse trainer. You are probably noticing a pattern here. She is our third child so we have been having these conversations for about a dozen years. There have been all kinds of responses from marine biologist, engineer, professional athlete, police officer, the military, and to what may be every parent’s fear—a Youtuber.
What I love about the question and their answers is the conversation it can open up. Each child shows an aspect of themselves, whether it be something that is currently on their mind or a part of their personality. For a parent who is forever looking for a chance to connect with their child, these are important and fruitful discussions.
However, when I pray for my children and who they will become, their vocation is not usually on the top of my list. Sure, I want them to love what they do and to work hard and be able to provide for their own families. I would be happy if they did any of the things they have boisterously declared as their future career paths, even (gulp) being a Youtuber (shaking my head) if God called them to it. But what I want for them even more, is to be people of great faith in Christ.
When I think of someone with great faith my mind immediately goes to Hebrews 11. Noah, Abraham, Moses, Rahab, and others did things where their life was in peril that demonstrated how great their faith was. Most of us are not typically put in situations like those found in Hebrews 11. My children probably will not have to build any large boats or hide spies or lead a nation, yet they can still be people of great faith no matter where God leads them.
I found a beautiful picture of this kind of faith in Acts 5:17-42. Something I found fascinating about this passage is how the apostle’s great faith is contrasted against the Sadducees lack of faith. In the passage, the Sadducees have the apostles arrested because people are coming to faith in Jesus through their ministry. During the night, an angel opens the prison doors and the apostles are able to go free. Yet they do not flee. They go into the temple to resume their teaching ministry. When the Sadducees call for the apostles in the morning and discover they are missing, they are confused as the prison is still locked up tight. When they finally find them in the temple, they arrest the apostles again and question them. Then, one of the Sadducees advises the rest to leave the apostles alone just in case God is involved in their work. So the Sadducees only beat them and let them go with a warning (even though I have just summarized the passage let me encourage you to read it).
In each situation, the Sadducees respond as people who lack faith. They respond with jealousy to the apostles' thriving ministry. When they find the apostles teaching in the temple they are afraid of the people. When they question the apostles they blame-shift and try to assert control over the situation. Lastly, they respond with rage when the apostles speak about Jesus.
In contrast, the apostles respond to all things with great faith. When they are miraculously delivered from prison they do not flee in fear, but go back to the temple to “speak…all the words of life” in obedience to the Lord’s direction. As the Sadducees question them, they do not give into fear but display tremendous trust in the Lord. Upon their release, the apostles rejoice at being counted as worthy to suffer for Christ. In addition, they show perseverance in that they went right back to work “teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus (5:42).”
This is what I pray for my children. Actually, this is what I pray for myself as well. What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to grow as a person of faith who is obedient to the Lord’s direction, trusts God in all things, rejoices in every situation including persecution, and perseveres in all to which God has called me. If that is who I am and whom my children develop into, we will be successful no matter what we do for a living.