Jared Lilly is the Kids’ & Family Pastor at Faith Assembly of God in Winterville, where he has served since 2014. He is a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God and studied Children’s Ministry at Lee University. A native of West Virginia, he moved to Hampton Roads where he spent his teen years. There, he met and married his high school sweet heart, Hannah. Together, they have a daughter named McKenna (which Jared wants everyone to know means ‘daughter of a handsome man).
When he is not serving his church, Jared loves to watch sports and play music!
As a children’s pastor, I’ve experienced families of all sorts. In my time serving families in Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, I’ve encountered families that have been in church for generations, families attending church for the first time ever, and of course, the CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only). One common thread I’ve noticed through these different commitments through church attendance is one expectation: It is Pastor Jared’s job to teach our children about Jesus.
While this is true, it isn’t the whole truth. It is the joy of my life and my full-time job to share the gospel with the children who attend Faith Assembly and live in Pitt County, but it isn’t just my job. I believe it is the job of anyone who has a child entrusted to them to disciple them and teach them about having a relationship with Jesus.
Before I go to much farther, let me give you a quick synopsis of 1 Samuel 3. The title of this section in my Bible is “The Lord Calls Samuel”. Samuel’s mother, Hannah, had been barren prior to God answering her cry for a child. Hannah so desired a baby that she promised God she would dedicate her child to the Lord and His service. After Samuel had been weened, she took Samuel to the Temple where she entrusted care of Samuel to the prophet Eli.
Chapter 3 starts with “The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli.” What young person has God put in your life that “serves under you”? If you’re a parent, your children are an obvious answer. This person could also be a younger relative, the child of a friend, a younger coworker, or just a kid who always seems to say hi to you when they are sprinting down the hallways of your church.
One night while Eli was “lying down in the house of Lord,” the Lord calls Samuel. God calls Samuel two times, each time Samuel mistakes this as Eli calling him. Eli dismisses Samuel and sends him back to bed. The third time this happens, Eli realizes that Samuel is hearing the voice of God. This time Samuel instructs him to lay down and if He calls again to respond “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (Verse 9). Samuel follows these instructions and God speaks to Samuel concerning His will for the family of Eli.
The next morning, Eli asks what the Lord said, Samuel shares with him the Word from God that tells of doom for the family of Eli. After hearing the account, Eli responds with “He is the Lord; let Him do what is good in His eyes.” (Verse 18)
From that day on, Samuel was confirmed and known as a Prophet of God.
There are 5 take aways I hope every Christian pulls from this passage:
- As stated, it is the job of anyone who has a child under them to disciple that child, for Eli, it was a baby brought to him at the temple. Who is your Samuel?
- Eli was “lying down in the house of God” . In order to do as the Bible says and train up a child in the way they should go, we need to be spending time in the Lord’s presence daily. This includes reading God’s Word and prayer.
- Samuel didn’t recognize God’s voice on His own. When God speaks to kids in our care, He may use us to identify His voice. Talk with your kids about how God speaks and how we can be attentive enough to listen.
- After Eli identified God’s voice, he told Samuel how to respond. God may have gifted a child under you with an incredible talent, or be asking them to do something amazing; it is our jobs as stewards of God’s kids to guide them towards using those gifts to glorify God.
- Finally, Eli confirmed the anointing on Samuel’s life when he says “He is the Lord…” in verse 18. When kids are responding to and following God, our affirmation of those things can be so important to a heart of a child. Encourage them when you see them being used by God! It can be with phrases as simple as “Wow! God is really using you!” or “God has a plan for your life, you’re doing a great job!”. Let them know you are proud to see God at work in their life!
Imagine what this next generation would look like if every Believer identified their Samuel and followed the example set in 1 Samuel Chapter 3!
*Written by Jared Lilly