One of the real blessings in being a parent is the occasional interaction we get with our children’s teachers in the school environment.
At one such parent/teacher interview I recall being significantly impressed by the loving approach of one of my children’s teachers. It was clear he just loved doing his job, considering his students—in a very authentic and morally-grounded sort of way—part of his own family.
But, there is an equally insidious point to note on the opposite side of the ledger.
Preventing Harm by Giving the Greatest Gift
Many, many of the societal crimes-of-conscience surround how much abuse and neglect of children there is around. There are direct and indirect forms of both. Many of our problems are due the direct and indirect influence of the mistreatment and anti-love of kids as they were brought up, usually by adults who themselves—as children—were not loved as they deserved to be loved.
It is easy, then, to contend, one of the best and greatest gifts any of us can give back to humanity is to simply love the child—any child—in our midst.
This way we become Jesus-in-skin for this child and shine the light of peace, hope and joy into their malleable hearts, whilst boosting the confidence of their minds. They could only ever find this inspiring them to love life.
This is nothing whatsoever about preconceived notions of discipline or guidance. It’s simply about openness, patience and an agapistic love—which sets itself for the moment inside this child’s skin, thinking and feeling as they would think and feel, being, as it were, the child.
This is perfect empathy—to every good thing—so far as this ‘child of God’ is concerned.
Tolerance is such a key.
Jesus taught tolerance as much as any other single attribute—and yet, we see so many ‘knowledgeable’ people, including Christians, who take delight in propagating intolerance, division and polarisation of many things, including—especially—within relationships.
Tolerance, so far as children are concerned, seems to be that perfect blend of love imbued truth—with grace abiding, always. This, most of the time, is about throwing out our preconceived ideas of child-rearing and interaction with children, for a better model.
This is the model of the person of Jesus.
What, Truly, Did Jesus Do?
It’s more about reading the gospels to pick out the nuances in Jesus’ gentle and kind interactions with kids that will help us.
I’ve often found simply closing my eyes over a passage read is helpful as God paints the ‘colour-by-number’ images in my mind, completing the gospel snapshot.
When we welcome a child, in God’s name, providing him or her safety and security, we welcome Jesus (Matthew 18:5). Remember, also, that the kingdom of heaven actually belongs to children (Matthew 19:14). And not only do we welcome Jesus when we welcome children in safety, but the Father is also welcomed (Mark 9:37).
Perhaps as it also attains to faith; we can learn a lot from observing and indeed ‘find faith’ from the gentle counsel of children—especially in their authenticity.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.