By John Roy
"No one has yet fully realized the wealth of sympathy, kindness, and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure."
Children are valuable to a congregation and faith development is important to childhood. A child’s soul needs to be nurtured.
In adulthood, we value the qualities of responsibility, flexibility, and honesty. We'd go further and say healthy people are social enough but also content with their own company. We want adults who are creative but not flighty, spouses who are faithful but spontaneous, and co-workers who solve problems but who are team players. We are looking for perfection.
But in the real world, most people are not perfect. Some are too demanding. Others are too dramatic. Others might be whiners, stubborn, or worse. In this world, there are no perfect spouses, co-workers, or adults. All we have are fallen, broken sinners.
The ability to live among and be happy with these imperfect creatures is not something we learn in school. This ability is a spiritual quality. You could develop it outside of congregational life. But like it's easier to learn to drive a car by having a car, it's easier to develop a spiritual quality by coming to a spiritual place. The church is the perfect place to learn the coping mechanisms for a child's future.
The school will teach them reading and discipline. The college will prepare them for a career. But in the church, we teach them to forgive, to have compassion, to listen, to be patient, to pray, and trust. These are the survival traits they need to deal with bosses, spouses, teachers, co-workers, and all of the rest of humanity in their future. When they don't get their dream job, it is the faith they developed from hearing our stories and coming to this place that will help them face the future. When their heart is broken open by a lost love, they will need the resources from our chief teacher Jesus to forgive. When things are not going as they hoped it is, then they will recall the value of prayer that they witnessed in God's house.
In many ways, most of what is done for children in this world assumes everything will go as planned. Yet the congregation's curriculum is developed to help children when life goes off-script. Others have the responsibility of teaching children how to make a living; we have the honor of teaching them how to live.
So parents give your children a big ol' hug, no matter what their age. Church, let's say a prayer for the children and those who teach them in our congregation. Further, let's model in front of them the grace and forgiveness they will need for their tomorrow. Children are imitators. So let's give them something great to imitate.