Now Reading
Helping Kids Exchange Anxiety for A Garment of Praise

Helping Kids Exchange Anxiety for A Garment of Praise

Yancy Wideman Richmond
  • The heartache of life has no age restriction. What if we taught children from an early age how to go to God with their pain? What would it take to teach them about worship so their hiding place becomes God's presence?
Kids Worship Yancy Ministries

A few years ago, I was attending an event about music for children. The set of sessions was sponsored by a family foundation. One of the members of that family was hosting and introducing the event and he shared that his family had been going through a hard season. His children go to a Christian school and one day his daughter commented that all the songs they sing at chapel were about being happy. How was she supposed to go to God with her pain?

I immediately started jotting down the words to a song that became “Even When”. I tried to write about the various emotions and hard things we go through in life but also share that we can seek God and run to Him through all of those feelings. The truth is we all go through life. The ups, downs, celebrations and heart ache. We experience gain, lack, hellos, goodbyes, bravery and fear. The lemons of life have no age restriction. They aren’t like a movie rating with a suggested demographic to be the audience. Imagine if we could shield children from such pain throughout childhood. Alas, we live in a fallen world.

I remember the aha moment I had watching a three-year-old play on a bounce house. This young boy’s mother had died. As I watched him play, I understood for the first time how little, innocent and young my own father was when as a boy he experienced his father’s death. Something no three-year-old should have to go through. My heart broke. Whether it be due to an illness or a car accident, a divorce or a job lost, the kids you are ministering to are going through real life battles.

Are you meeting them there?

Sweet Sound The Power of Discipling Kids in Worship
Sweet Sound: The Power of Discipling Kids in Worship

The girl’s awareness of what was lacking in her school’s chapel service is an assessment many church leaders aren’t even questioning. I spend a good portion of my life in conversations with kids ministry directors. So often, leaders are looking for music to entertain and make the whole room look like it’s a party. If you have any doubt about that just think about what your VBS or kids camp worship time looks like.

Kids Can’t Survive on Ice Cream

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for happy. There are indeed moments for celebration but let’s not forget that our kids need more. Just like you wouldn’t feed anyone you love a diet of only cotton candy and sweet treats, you can’t only lead kids in “Father Abraham” or “Church Clap” and expect that it’s the substance they are going to need when the going gets tough. Give them the protein, the leafy greens and then some ice cream too. Help them grow roots in the Kingdom of God so that when hard things of life happen they will know their faith is built on a firm foundation that can’t be shaken. Prepare them to flourish and be blessed like we see in Jeremiah 17:7-8:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
    for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
    for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Run To God In All Situations

It is crucial that we help kids learn how to run to God in everything they face. It’s not a matter of if but rather when they will need to know that path. As long as we are residents of earth there are going to be imperfect days and situations because we are living in a world that’s broken. The disappointment. The heartache. The worry. The fear and anxiety. The feelings of I’m not good enough. Every. Single. Thing. Take it to the feet of Jesus. Lay it down and put on the garment of praise.

I can’t tell how many times in the last month the phrase “garment of praise” from Isaiah 61:3 has been highlighted to me. As God has been putting it on echo in my life I am listening and I’m smiling. I love clothing. I joke that my hobby is shopping or at least fashion. So, mixing two things I love dearly in this life: praising God and clothes, you can bet I am listening.

It doesn’t matter if your style is more thrift store than couture fashion. You could have the most exquisite leather or beaded fabric. If you have been blessed with such a garment, wouldn’t you want to show it off? Any article of clothing can hang in the closet or get buried and lost in a pile of laundry. The garment is only experienced by the wearer and those they encounter when it is worn. You must first put it on. I never want to be guilty of watching other people worship and not joining in to the song of heaven in that very same moment. Some of our churches are doing more catalog or online clothes shopping just looking rather than actually putting on the royal robe they have been given as a child of God.

Isaiah 61 goes on to say in verse 10 & 11:

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
    my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations. (NIV)

How is your ministry helping kids put on a garment of praise?

How is the worship set you have planned for Sunday morning going to help them sit at the feet of Jesus? Casting their burdens on Him and picking up His yoke that is light as they live out the week ahead.

Within every offering of worship there is an exchange that happens. David modeled to us what going to battle in the spirit looks like. He fought spiritual warfare with his song. I do not think that the Psalms are all written as testimonies of “look what God did” statements. Many were written as he was crying out to God in the middle of needing a shelter and desiring a hiding place. David learned that God would meet Him in the middle of his song: Help me, Where are You? I need You. I long for You!

I can’t tell you how many times I have needed the vocabulary that is in certain songs. There have been days I was walking through something hard and in my overwhelmed state mustering those statements on my own would have been a struggle. I am so thankful for gifted songwriters who have helped me articulate what I believe and how much I can trust God in the moments I needed His help the most. These writers help me declare what I believe is true and speak it over my life, just like David did.

What kind of messages are in the songs that you’re leading your preteens in?

Are you giving them prayers to sing as they war in the spirit over their self-esteem, friendships and family?

Worship is the very best way I know to help kids learn the path of running to God in everything they face. Help them overcome anxiety, disappointment, fear, heaviness, worry and the list could go on. Help them fight and battle in the spirit with their song. Prepare a garment of praise and intentionally show them how to wear it by and the example you put before them. Teach them to seek God through worship so they can experience the joy and peace of His presence.

— — — — — —

More from Yancy

What's Your Reaction?
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply