Similarly, as adults, we can view children as eternally young. Oh, we know they'll grow up “someday”, but our "cherub-vision" keeps them from ever being adults in our mind. Mind you, when they misbehave, cherub-vision turns off, and we all are quite ready for them to finally “grow up”!
Joking aside, sometimes we can disassociate children, from being would-be-adults, in our mind. Unfortunately, when we forget they will be the next generation of adults, we neglect preparing them for the tasks that lie ahead.
As a single young man writing this, some might wonder what I could know about training children. Admittedly, very little. But it takes supporting parents and a community of people, to raise children. Each of us has a part to play in helping children become the adults they're created to be.
It's through this concept, and much prayer, I was led to serve in my church's children's ministry, this year. After helping the teachers for a few months, I was in charge of the class this Sunday, for the first time. It was quite an experience.
As any parent would know, better than I, being “in charge” of two to four year olds, can be a difficult thing. Finding a proper balance of patience, and refocusing a child's attention, especially when the child is not your own, can be tricky. I found this, in listening to what the child had to say, and transitioning into the Sunday School lesson organically. A lot of good conversation can come from listening.
My pupil seemed to have a fascination with talking about lava lately.
“So what's lava?” I asked.
“Hot stuff,” he replied, as scientifically as you can be at four years old.
“Hot stuff? So is coffee lava?” I posed humorously.
“No. Lava is orange stuff that is in Bowser's castle,” he replied very specifically.
“Oh, I see, Bowser from the Mario games.” I pointed out, realizing his lava fascination came from the popular Nintendo series.
“Ya. He's mean. He's a bad guy.”
This led to an interesting discussion, about God wanting us to pray for our enemies, not retaliate. And what makes a “bad guy” a “bad guy”, and a “good guy” a “good guy”.
I wasn't sure whether he was fully grasping the idea. But later I was encouraged to hear his answer to a question during our formal lesson.
“What are some ways we can learn more about God?” I asked.
“We can go home and pray for bad guys to become good guys.” he replied.
The simplistic beauty of his answer made me smile. But really, his answer wasn't simple at all. I could see throughout the morning, how much he thought about the idea of praying for those who hurt us, as Jesus told us to, in Luke 6:28.
We can each find healthy ways to make a positive difference in children's lives. They're listening, whether we like it or not. Let's take some time to think about the world we're letting them overhear, and the world we hope they'll preserve and build upon. As much as we want children to rise above our mistakes, and in many ways they will, they can only do so if we give them a solid foundation. Let's point them to the solid foundation.