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  • Writer's pictureDeborah

Lead a Horse


I Peter 5:2 ESV

Hebrews 4:12 ESV

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

Early in ministry I got involved in children’s ministry. However, I didn’t really choose children’s ministry because God gave me a strong desire to serve in children’s ministry. I worked in children’s ministry because the workers were few and the need was great. 

Simply put, we were paid staff and I was needed in children’s ministry. I was told the that the pastor’s wife would head up Vacation Bible School and that’s what I did. I don’t remember how i started doing a children’s sermon in worship, but for years I taught a short lesson to children in ‘big church’. Before the adult sermon, I would call the children to the front and I would do a short sermon that had the same theme as the regular sermon. 

After doing children’s sermons for years I came to see it as a blessing. I think I realized that children are accustomed to listening in school and they follow directions well. The sermons I did were brief and to the point. I tried to make them interesting and engaging for every child. During the sermon I made eye contact with each child. 

Laughter has always been a huge part of my life, and I incorporated that when possible. 

Children are pliable and teachable. I’m not saying it’s always easy, but when they are interested, leading them to “water” is do-able. 

I have to confess that I did not spend a lot of time preparing for my weekly children’s sermon. Instead I spend a lot of time praying. 

There were many many times when I was walking to the stage and I was secretly saying, “okay, God this would be a great time to tell me what I’m supposed to say.” 

Without fail, the words always came. Every time.

By the time most of my children were grown I started working more with adults. In various capacities I taught adults and I realized in some ways it was more difficult. 

Adults are not always easy to engage. I don’t know if that’s because they are set in their ways or if it’s because they ‘come in’ with their own expectations. 

It wasn’t difficult to lead them to the watering hole, but it was more difficult to ‘get them to drink’ the water. 

1 Peter 5:2 says, “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly.” 

Shepherd the flock eagerly.

In college I studied persuasion and argumentation and in Seminary I studied apologetics. I learned that apologetics is one of the most difficult types of persuasion. I would define apologetics as an argument that seeks to persuade a theory or a religious doctrine. 

I would say that Billy Graham persuaded thousands to turn to Jesus. However, because I volunteered with his organization behind the scenes I learned that everything was prayed for, prayed over, and thoroughly prayed through. 

His sermons were persuasive, but the power came from the Spirit of God. 

He was eager to shepherd the flock as God led. 

His messages were powerful and he was eager to lead those who came to the watering hole. Still, it was the Spirit that made those who came thirsty enough to drink. 

In 19th Century England there was a preacher that filled the boiler room under the church with ‘pray-ers’. Every time he spoke he had hundreds of people in the basement praying. 

While Charles Spurgeon was a very famous preacher and he gave persuasive messages, he knew very well that the real power came from God. He knew the boiler room filled with prayers was the reason those who came ‘drank the water’. 

Yup…you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. 

Only God can do that. 

The Spirit of the living God is powerful. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Any sermon, children’s sermon or adult sermon can be creative, interesting, and persuasive, but it is the word of God by the Spirit of God that pierces the soul and moves the hearts of children, women, and men. 

Today, before I started writing I sat and prayed. 

I always stop and spend time with God. I don’t ever really know what I’m going to write about. I pray and I wait. Some times I get anxious and I want to start writing on my own. But then I remember I am not creative enough, not interesting enough, or persuasive enough to make a difference.

So, I pray and I wait. I usually spend an hour or an hour and a half praying and waiting and less that thirty minutes writing. I also pray every day that God will lead people to us who need the message God has for them. More and more I am astonished that people visit from Thailand, Bangladesh, South Africa, etc. I know God is leading them. 

I can lead the horse to water, but only God can give the horse a drink of living water. 

Spiritual Practice: Pray

Ask God to give you a drink. 

In God, Deborah


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