I am a mom and a worship leader. I am continually challenged in both areas and the topic of “children and worship” is close to my heart. How do my children worship? What can I learn from them? Is their worship a smaller version of my own ‘adult’ worship? I believe there is SO MUCH we can glean from our kids. They are so close to the heart of the Father.
I asked my own kids what worship means to them. My youngest, who is three, said, “I like to dance with my friends!” My four-year-old told me he liked to worship Jesus by doing flips (yes he really does) and that rock and roll was his favorite music to worship to. He also told me, “Worship means that I love God.”
My six-year-old said he worships when he is learning about God and listening to music. His nine-year-old sister said she likes to close her eyes to worship and that worship is giving God thanks. My oldest is eleven and she loves to sing and dance when she worships. When I asked her what she thought it meant to worship she said, “Giving your heart to Jesus.”
Two things really stand out to me after hearing what they had to say:
- One is the freedom children have.
- And the other, is that everyone worships differently.
I believe that children are the leaders when it comes to worship. I love their sincerity, energy, and joy when they worship. And then there’s freedom…oh the freedom! They don’t look at the kid across the aisle and think, “He’s got his hands in the air, I wonder if he is sincere? I better not do that because I don’t want to draw attention to myself.” This is where we as adults over think worship and often fall into judging others rather than setting our eyes on the One we are worshiping.
This is a personal journey I have been on in the last ten years. I remember being so worried about my sincerity in worship and thinking, “I shouldn’t do anything if I’m not feeling it or I will be faking.” I also was very worried about what other people thought about me. Would they think I see myself as a perfect Christian if I raise my hands (because that is what you do when you are really close to God and doing everything right)?
God has been taking me on a journey of worship and the biggest thing He has taught me is, IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!! Or anyone else around me! Jesus is the one we worship, He gets our hearts! And as my 4-year-old wisely said, “Worship means that I love God.” I am not in a perfect place with God but I do love Him and I will worship Him!
That’s where the other big thing God taught me comes in and it’s a little (big) something called obedience. If I really believe it’s not about me, then what? What if I still don’t “feel” anything or think I am somehow showing off if I worship with my hands or feet? My own story is that after coming to a place where I so clearly realized I was putting way too much emphasis on myself, I then took the next step to “Lift up holy hands in prayer and praise the Lord” (Psalm 134:2). I wanted to obey this call to worship, with or without warm fuzzy feelings because He is God yesterday, today and forever. I wanted to stop thinking so much about my selfish worries and set my eyes upon my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He deserves ALL the glory!
Many times when I am worshiping, I close my eyes and imagine Him seated on His throne and I have to raise my hands up to Him in praise. Someone else might drop to her knees, another will sit quietly, and another will dance. My hope is that we can give one another grace instead of judgment, fix our eyes on our Heavenly Father, and embrace the freedom and faith of a child as we worship.
What have you learned about worship or the Father’s heart from your kids?
Jaymi Vandewater is a mother of five beautiful children and worship leader. She serves in worship and children’s ministry and her husband Justin serves as an elder in their church, The Crossing, in Sioux Falls, SD. You can follow Jaymi on her journey with Jesus at her blog, here.