A child shall lead them.
Is this simply hyperbole or could we be missing something?
Have you considered the little child wiggling in the next restaurant table may someday have the answers we seek? What if that crying baby becomes a brilliant scientist whose discoveries revolutionize a future industry? Could it be possible adults spend an inordinate amount of time working to find answers and solutions that actually reside with the little one who is playing with blocks beside us?
Some in society believe that children are meant to be seen and not heard, yet what if their silence and invisibility is really costing us? We give children a device to keep them occupied while we discuss more important matters. But what if we are missing a rich opportunity to get a new and fresh perspective?
Children inherently want to learn. They want to ask why things work the way they do. They long to understand what the adults are doing and thinking. Maybe they don't voice it the ways adults do. But if you listen--really listen--they're asking the same questions:
- Who am I?
- Do I matter?
- How do I relate with that other person who is different than me?
- What should I do?
What if we were spending so much time seeking answers to questions that our children are already asking?
“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
-Jesus (Matthew 18:2-5)
Then you read about Jesus and the children and you get a feeling that Jesus truly saw the children around him. He was surrounded by crowds of people clamoring for his attention and yet the one group that seemed to capture his attention were the little children bouncing and running and laughing. Jesus embraced them.
What if we create communities where children are not only welcome at the table but have the seat of honor as Jesus gave to them? What if instead of having the children go play, we ask them what they think? Ask them their questions and their solutions, their worries and their struggles. Ask them what we should do to help people feel welcome and invited and loved and heard. Their answers will truly stun you because if anyone gets open hearts, open minds, and open doors, it is a child.
Take time to listen to the wise sage who is around you. They are playing on the playgrounds and sitting in classrooms learning shapes and letters. They are discovering, exploring, and learning what it means to be a person--while we adults think we have everything figured out.
It only takes a little moment to speak. Speak with the child and you realize that you have much to learn. Children simply do not see the world the way that adults see the world:
- Where adults see divisions and walls-- children see possibilities.
- Where adults see dead and hopeless streets-- children see new adventures.
- Where adults find discord and arguments-- children ask questions.
We should really listen to the children. We haven't had a chance to teach them yet to not trust their neighbor. We haven't explained to them that people are different. We haven't yet taught them the different ways we convince ourselves it's OK to let some in and shut others out.
We tell ourselves that they will learn someday. But what if we instead learn from them?
Tiffany Hollums is an author and clergy in the United Methodist Church. She has over 20 years of youth and/or children ministry experience, as well as, working in an urban ministry and treatment foster care. But the work she is most proud of being a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. When she is not crocheting blankets for loved ones as a ministry to those who are hurting or newborns, she can be found writing youth lessons and sipping espresso drinks! She lives in Austin with her husband, daughter, dogs, and family.