Some of my most memorable years as a father were our family dinner conversations in the evenings. Mary Ann and I would talk about our work and ministry and the kids would weigh in on those, ask questions or wax eloquent on their own issues of life, faith, politics and people.

From an early age, we did not hide from them issues we were dealing with including problematic issues at work. We had a fast and standing rue called PC or "Private Conversation" that could not go anywhere and to me knowledge they never violated that commitment. In the process they learned how we handled real life stuff and they learned how to have "robust dialogue" on any issues they wanted without personal attacks.

This is perhaps why from an early age, Jon and Chip were so comfortable around adults. They were treated like adults at home who could think through adult issues.

I think that we too often speak down at our children thinking that they will not understand. We do this with every day life issues, and especially with theology where we feel a need to bring the gospel down to their level. It is interesting to me that Jesus never did that. He spent time with children, talked with them and they in turn simply believe what he said in their naivety! He called us to have the same child like faith in his promises rather than rationalizing them away. He said it was easier for a child to enter his kingdom than a rich man.

I remember as a young child listening to tapes of Bible Stories right out of the gospels and Old Testament. My earliest scripture memory goes back to those "go to bed tapes." I did not need explanation, I simply listened and believed with child like trust. Perhaps that is a reason for my gift of faith today! God said it and I believe it. In fact, I never struggled in that department but it goes back to my youth.

Sure there are complicated themes in the Bible. But there are many that are complicated to adults that are not complicate to kids. They simply take God and Jesus at his word: a novel idea unhindered by our western rationalism.

Years ago, an expert in education from England wrote these words.

We might gather from [misguided] educational publications that the art of education as regards young children is to bring conceptions down to their 'little' minds. If we give up this foolish prejudice, we shall be astonished at the range and depth of children's minds. And, we shall perceive that their relation to God is one of those 'first-born affinities,' which it is our part to help them to make good. A mother knows how to speak of God as she would of an absent father, with all the evidences of his care and love. She knows how to make a child's heart beat high in joy and thankfulness; as she thrills him with the thought 'my Father made them all,' while his eye delights in flowery meadow, great tree, flowing river. 'His are the mountains and the valleys, his the resplendent rivers, whose eyes they fill with tears of holy joy.' And this is not beyond children. (Charlotte Mason, Philosophy of Education)

Remember that when children are created they come with amazing minds, creative ideas and a spiritual component that wants and needs to connect with the living God. It is often we as parents that complicate the uncomplicated and limit their understanding through our disappointments in life and sometimes far from robust faith.

  • Oct 12, 2010
  • Category: News
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