When you think of children today, what do you think of? They are kind, compassionate, selfless individuals who always put others first, obey their parents and wait patiently for the things they do not have? Not many children I know. Maybe they get there eventually… but all children are born with a selfish, sinful nature that demands that they be put first at all times.
My wife and I live in this world right now. We have a 3-year-old, a 21-month-old, and one on the way. Our life is consumed with the daily battles of teaching our children that they are not the center of the world. If you have or have had small children, you are probably laughing right now because you know what a futile effort this can be with small children.
The simplest thing like, “Go put on your shoes so we can go outside and play,” can turn into World War III because our son’s socks are itchy, his big toe is suddenly writhing with pain and he has to be the one to open the back door, which is protected by a child-safety lock. World. War. III.
But, what can we do? How can we change this? Well, I am a believer that while we will never have perfect children, we can have children that will grow into the kind, compassionate, selfless individuals that we dream about.
One way that we have approached this with our First through Fifth graders at the Glade Church is by expanding our kids’ worldview. What’s a worldview? It is simply the way that they perceive the world that we live in. We go on a step further and expand their worldview based on what the Bible says about loving those in the world around us.
One recent way that we did this was by “Praying for the Nations.” Each month during our weekly kids’ worship service, we focused on a different country. We watched videos that showed how children in other parts of the world live; we tasted the kind of food they like to eat; and when possible, we talked to people who had lived in or visited that part of the world.
This became a specific teaching time for our kids that God loves us all. Our joy comes from his love, not from our circumstances. Our hope for life is in that love. We would pray each week that the people in those countries who faced poverty, disease, malnourishment, and so much more, would somehow hear about God’s love and that their lives would be changed by it.
To be honest, that’s my prayer for the kids in our own country. You see, we all need to be changed by that love. While I am not naive enough to think that those kids walked out of church each week and went home perfect little angels because of what they had seen or heard… a seed was planted.
And I truly believe that those seeds are the seeds that will one day grow our children into the people that we, and most importantly God, desire for them to be.
Jared Norris is director of preschool and children’s ministry at The Glade Church in Gladeville. Norris joined the staff in 2010. He grew up in Surgoinsville and attended Volunteer High School, Walters State Community College and Middle Tennessee State University. He also has a masters in divinity from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served in churches in Smyrna and Simpsonville Ky. Jared and his wife, Katie, have two sons, Carter and Cohen.