Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King

B. Childress
May 12 2013

I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be
blessed through you.
 (Genesis 12:3)


Marilynn and I were married in California in 1960.  Those were turbulent times!  We were in Los Angeles during the
Watts riot.  I was doing graduate work near Berkeley University during the student protests.  The local schools regularly
had air-raid drills to train school children what to do in case of a nuclear attack.  Many people discouraged us from
bringing children into such a dangerous and unsettled world.  But I noticed that throughout Scripture when times were
difficult, God’s answer was often to send a baby into the world.  Isaac, Moses, Samuel, Samson, John the Baptist, and, of
course, Jesus were God’s response to difficult times.  Ultimately, Marilynn and I had five children – four boys and a girl.  
All five are serving in full-time Christian ministry, and now our grandchildren are beginning to sense God’s call on their
lives into ministry as well.

When Richard was born, I spent all night praying over him after we brought him home from the hospital.  I believed God
had given him to us for a particular purpose.  I sensed God wanted to use him in Christian ministry when he grew up.  I
also knew that, being reared in a pastor’s home, there would be many pressures on him from others to simply follow in
his father’s footsteps.  So I never told him what I thought God wanted him to do.  Instead, I asked God to show me how to
help Richard learn to know and do God’s will.

There were some difficult times along the way.  Richard ran into some serious health issues as a child.  During his teen
years, he had to decide if he would go God’s way or the world’s.  When he entered college, he began to make
preparations to be a high school social studies teacher.  But I knew he was sidestepping God’s will.  I continued to pray
and sought to help Richard develop a walk with God in which he would obey what God told him.

Halfway through his freshman year, Richard walked down the church aisle one Sunday during the altar call.  In tears, he
explained that he knew God was calling him into Christian ministry and that he had been running from God.  He didn’t
want to be a pastor just because his dad was or because everyone expected him to.  Moreover, he had grown up seeing
firsthand the challenges that come to a pastor and his family.  But he would resist no longer.  Standing at the front of the
church, I smiled and for the first time told my oldest son I had known all his life God was calling him into ministry.  With a
startled look, he asked, “Well if you have known for so long, why didn’t you tell me?”  I replied, “I wanted you to hear it
from God.”

Richard went on to complete seminary and to serve as a pastor.  Today, he is the president of our ministry!  God gave
us a similar opportunity in each of our children’s lives to help them walk with God so they wouldn’t miss out on anything
God intended to do in their lives.

One of the most exciting and rewarding invitations God gives to us is the opportunity to join His activity in our children’s
lives.  Scripture says:

    Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, children, a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons
    born in one’s youth.  Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them.  Such men will never be put to shame
    when they speak with their enemies at the city gate.  (Psalm 127:3-5)

While not everyone will be married or have children, for those who do become parents, children are a special
assignment from the Lord.  Wise parents understand God has a unique design for each child, and they should carefully
watch to see where God is at work in each son’s or daughter’s life.  Notice the significant purpose God had for these
children in the Bible:

  • Isaac (Genesis 17:19)

  • Joseph (Genesis 37:5-11)

  • Moses (Exodus 1:15-2:3)

  • Samson (Judges 13:1-5)

  • Samuel (I Samuel 1:11)

  • David (I Samuel 16:11-13)

  • Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-10)

  • John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-17)

The psalmist declared:

    For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You,
    because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful and I know this very well.  My
    bones are not hidden from You and when I was made in secret when I was formed in the depths of the earth.  Your
    eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them
    began.  God, how difficult Your thoughts are for me to comprehend; how vast their sum is!  (Psalm 139:13-17)

Since God created every person, only He knows the maximum potential for each life.  He knows what will lead to joy and
fulfillment.  He recognizes our shortcomings.  He understands how our weaknesses can drive us to Him.  By His grace
and power, He can work even through our frailties.  God has given us strengths, which, if submitted to the Holy Spirit’s
guidance, become powerful instruments in His hands.  Each of us has a unique pilgrimage with special insights and
sensitivities that God can use in significant ways for His kingdom.  No success or failure in our lives is wasted with God.  
He does not squander any of our disappointments.  He fashions the unique life to which He calls us, and then He is
glorified when we live for Him.  No life is ordinary when it is in the hands of our extraordinary God.

The apostle Paul gloriously identified God’s eternal design for every person:

    For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that he would be the
    firstborn among many brothers.  And those He predestined, He also called; and those he called, He also justified;
    and those He justified, He also glorified.  (Romans 8:29-30)


God’s purpose for each of your children is that they become like Christ.  From the beginning of time, God knew your
children would dwell on this earth, and He intended for them one day to act and think like Christ.  To accomplish this,
God seeks to draw each of your children into a love relationship with Him.  God will lead every child on a unique journey.  
He will speak to your children and allow circumstances in their lives so He can fashion them into Christ-likeness.  
Throughout the process, God invites you to participate in His work in your children’s lives.  Your influence as a parent is
extremely significant.  God wants you to:

    1.  Pray for your children.  Prayer is not primarily for us to tell God what we want Him to do for our children.  It is
    for God to adjust our lives so we can be His instrument in their lives.  We don’t always know what is best for our
    kids.  We aren’t aware of all they experience at school.  We don’t see all the temptations, criticisms, threats, or
    pressures they undergo.  God does not make our children immune from difficulty, but He will alert parents so we
    can be God’s spokesperson when our children need to respond to the circumstances of their lives.  God also
    knows the potential of each child.  As much as we love our children, we can’t begin to imagine all God has in His
    heart for them (see I Corinthians 2:9).  We rob our children if we merely want them to meet our expectations.  We
    need to be aware of God’s agenda for our kid’s lives so they experience the abundant life God intends for them
    (see John 10:10).

    Parents often find themselves praying that their children never experience any pain or hardship.  Yet God may
    allow various degrees of discomfort in your child’s life to help him or her grow and learn.  If God is seeking to bring
    maturity and Christ-likeness to our children through hardship, then it is counterproductive to pray away every
    difficult circumstance God allows in their lives.  It is far better to ask God to help us understand what He is
    attempting to do through the circumstances our children experience.  We tend to focus our attention on what is
    happening to our kids today while God knows what He is preparing them to be and do for eternity.

    2.  Talk with your children about God’s activity.  Parents talk to their children about numerous things, but no
    topic is as important as discussing God’s activity in their lives.  Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and 20-25 instructs parents to
    regularly talk to their children about God’s activity.  Parents should rehearse with their children the acts of God
    throughout their family history.  They ought to recount how they met Christ personally, how God led them to be
    married, how God guided them in their careers, and how God has walked with them through the years.  Parents
    should point out God’s ongoing work in their own lives so the family learns to recognize God’s activity.

    As Marilynn and I reared our children, we constantly pointed out God’s activity to them.  When God provided for a
    financial need, we praised God as a family.  When God answered our prayers, we helped our sons and daughter
    see the connection between what we prayed and what happened next.  As a result, walking with God became a
    natural part of our children’s lives.

    I also asked my children God-centered questions.  Instead of “What would you like to be when you grow up?” I
    asked, “What do you sense God wants you to do?”  When my children came to me with a question, they learned
    to expect me to point them to God: “What do you think God wants you to do?” was my usual reply.  If I had merely
    given my opinion every time they came for help, they would have learned to come to me for answers instead of to
    God.  I wanted them to learn to habitually trust in God, not in their parents.  As my children grew older, I regularly
    asked, “What has God been teaching you lately?”  Such a question always provided opportunities to discuss
    important issues.

    3.  Minister with your children.  One of the greatest joys we’ve had as parents has been ministering alongside
    our children.  We often invited people to our home, and through those times our children learned to care for
    others.  When I was a pastor, I often took a child with me when I went to speak at one of our mission churches.  At
    times, I would take a child to visit a widow or someone in the hospital.  Our family also served together in vacation
    Bible school and at youth camps.

    I know families who go on a mission trip together every year.  Some families openly discuss the family budget and
    decide together which causes – beyond the support of their local church – they will contribute to.  Many of history’
    s greatest missionaries and ministers were taught by their parents to be on mission with God.

    As my children have grown, I’ve had the privilege of speaking and writing with all five of them.  Last year, I had a
    new experience.  I spoke at a men’s conference along with Richard and his oldest son, Mike – three generations
    of Blackabys all ministering for the Lord together!

It’s important to model for our children how to join in God’s activity.  Whenever we would hear of a new ministry
opportunity from God, we would share it with our children and ask what they thought God wanted us to do.  As our
children grew, they began to recognize God at work around our family and they would suggest ways they thought we
should become involved.  As Marilynn and I watched our children mature, we realized that the greatest single
contribution to God’s kingdom we may have made during our lives is to teach our children to observe where God is at
work and to join Him.


EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group