Sometimes Kids Know Better!
I recently gave a talk at the 2010 Missional Learning Commons on the topic of how children often embrace and demonstrate missional living more easily than the adults in their lives. For an example, look no further than Matthew 18, the passage in which the disciples are arguing about the question of who will be the greatest in heaven. As a response, Jesus places a child before them and says those famous words, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I think the child in that setting must have been beaming, full of joy from Jesus selecting him from the crowd, so amazed and encouraged that Jesus was using him as the example for the adults to emulate. And in the same way in our day, I believe that children have so much to teach us about living missionally. Particularly when they are young, they have a natural bent to help others, to give generously, and to respond in tangible ways when they discover a need that touches their heart.
In the last post, written by Patricia Jones, you read briefly about her 11-year-old daughter Isabel, who was inspired to start her own ministry, ShoesForKids. On the site, she explains the rationale behind her decision: “I started Shoes for Kids when I realized I had lots of shoes and other kids donâ€™t have any shoes. Some times other kids ask me why I do this? I just tell them I do this because I want to help others. Some day I want every child in the world to have a pair of shoes.”
I love how direct and straightforward Isabel is: kids need shoes. She can find extra shoes and send them to those in need. And that’s exactly what Isabel has been doing; so far, she has collected hundreds of pairs of shoes to send to kids who need them all over the world. I am inspired by her activism and her heart to make a difference!
Sometimes adults, when confronted by the problems and issues of the world, feel that those problems are so enormous they are too hard to tackle. But children don’t see the world in those terms. They eagerly ask, “How can I help?” And when adults see that kind of spirit and desire in their children, they would be wise to nurture and encourage those missional impulses as much as possible. As children grow older, so many forces will be pushing against them and chipping away at their natural missional inclinations. Whatever we can do as parents to help our children to grow in their awareness of the needs in the world around us, and to enable our kids to work towards meeting those needs, can only serve them well in the future. And we may learn a few things along the way from those who have already figured out the secret to entering into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Have your children demonstrated missional living in their own lives? I’d love to see examples of how your children are doing so in your family context!