“I have to go to work.”
The 2-year-old in our house pushes her hair away from her face, shoulders a miniature pink backpack, and starts trudging to the back door.
“Don’t go!” we say. “Stay here with us. It’s almost time for dinner.”
She replies, dutifully, “No. I have to go.”
She’s growing up—fast. And she’s not the only one. Everywhere you look, young people are taking on big responsibilities previously reserved for people older than they are. High schoolers take college courses. Tweens have detailed social calendars, and the mobile devices to manage them. There is a 6-year-old who made $11 million last year marketing toys on YouTube.
Some kids are tackling the most pressing issues of our day, the most recent example being the Florida teens campaigning for an end to school violence like the shooting that devastated their community earlier this year.
As an adult, especially as a parent, it’s easy to want to lock the doors, pull down the shades, and resolve to just make life work inside our house for the next 15 years.
At Children’s Missions Day this month, I saw evidence that many parents aren’t parenting like that. Hundreds of mini-missionaries worked in 16 locations across Illinois, baking cookies, tending yards, delivering care packages, and visiting nursing homes—all in the name of sharing God’s love with people who might need to hear about it.
My 2-year-old went with me to take photos at one of the sites that day, and I watched her watch the older kids. On the way home, I heard her voice from the backseat: “When I get older and bigger, can I do projects?”
Her question begs an answer—and a commitment—from her parents. To let her grow up and exercise the faith we pray she’ll make her own one day. To trust that God has a plan for her life that may include going somewhere we’ve not been, and can’t go along.
In a scary world, it’s a heavy commitment. We have time to get used to the idea, but not as much as we once did. They’re growing up fast.