In Matthew 18:1-4, the disciples ask Jesus about who would be the greatest in heaven. Jesus answered by calling a child not much older than an infant. He presented the child to the disciples and told them,
What did Jesus mean by “become like children”? The years I spent working as a preschool chaplain taught me ways of seeking the Father that I often forget as an adult.
Building Blocks of Patience
Every week when I entered the preschooler’s classroom, the sight is overwhelming – a group of kids playing with wooden building blocks, another group creating art, a few tackling puzzles and such. Usually, by the time I come in, the kids are almost done with their play time and are packing up. Occasionally, I sit in through their group play session and observe.
Children pick up the same building blocks week after week, spend a good 20 minutes trying to recreate a structure based on the template given. Even though the end-product to be created is different each week, it takes effort to find the correct blocks to piece together to form the desired structure. There they worked, patiently working each piece in each spot until they found the one that fits the picture. Once they have formed it, the children have to start over again to form another. Their dedication to complete was uncanny as they worked a small bit at a time until the whole image was complete.
The more I watched, the more I realised that the same patience and dedication that the children had for working the wooden blocks, God wants us to have with every obstacle we face in life. When the young ones were faced with a task, they searched through the block pieces until the found the right one that fits. Similarly, when we face a problem, we need to seek its answers through prayer, studying the Scriptures, and seeking the guidance from those who God has put around us and over us.
Mimicking the Master
I had read and heard about how young children are natural mimics, especially in groups. I didn’t realise the extent Of the group mimicry until teaching a class with 26 of them. The seek leaders and follow them closely. It’s one wants to share their story, suddenly all would one to chip in. If one gives “the dark” as an example of something she’s afraid of, then a lot more will say that they are afraid of the dark too.
Watching these kids mimic each other or the teacher during the lesson made me think about what adult actions they mimic when mimicry is not part of the plan. Do they see me actively listening to another teacher during the lesson? Am I respectful to my fellow leaders? Am I setting a good example when I’m not trying to get them to copy me?
When they do follow the good examples we set, the real humidity and learning sets in. We are children of God, and just as we want and expect the preschoolers to mimic our good examples, God wants and expects us to follow His example. Jesus lived a life of love and humble servitude. He didn’t play the “do as I say, not as I do” card. Instead, he backed all of his lessons with actions. From feeding the 5000, to washing his disciples feet, and ultimately dying on the cross; He set the standard for us to mimic – placing God first, others next, and his own life last.
Simplicity of God’s Truth
I think we often get stuck thinking that preschoolers are too young to understand and remember God and the stories they hear from the Bible. When in reality, they sometimes understand better than we do. We can get so wrapped up in trying to remember all the details of the lesson we want to teach our children, that we lose sight of why we’re teaching them. Sometimes we even lose sight of the core truth itself. Children look past the details to the simplicity of the truth.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to those such as infants and young ones, because they understand the simple truth. Sometimes the core truths are all we need to know. Look to God through the eyes of a child – God loves us and has the power to protect us, and He wants us to love and trust him. Amen!