I’m not always up on the current slang, so here’s a new word that stuck out to me: kidult. I saw it on a breakfast cereal ad promising that the adult in you will like the nutrition and the kid in you will like the flavor. Kidult is actually listed on dictionary.com! Defined as an adult interested in forms of entertainment intended for children. Hey, I’m 32 and I’ve been known to watch Phineas and Ferb when there’s nothing suitable on TV.
A lot of time in children’s ministry is spent training children to mature. And I firmly believe it’s a Biblical mandate! We are warned in Hebrews 5:12-14 that we should grow to the point where we are able to teach others and not require someone to teach us the first principles of God’s Word again. Milk is for infants we’re told and solid food for full grown men. Yes, our job is to train up a generation that will go out and train another generation. We don’t want students who sit in high chairs crying for more milk.
We are also told to become like a child to enter the Kingdom of heaven or to be great (Matthew 18:3-4). We’re called to grow up and yet preserve our childlike faith. How do we teach kids to mature and at the same time not lose the childlike qualities that Jesus praised? Bible commentaries mention key characteristics of little children and they don’t mean childish. Here are a few…
1. Trusting. Trust comes naturally to children. As time passes and we experience disappointment or broken promises, we start to lose that childlike trust. Trust is the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength and truth of God. “Every word of God is tried and purified; He is a shield to those who trust and take refuge in Him,” Proverbs 30:5. We should foster this quality in our students. If students can trust our word, it’s easier for them to trust God’s Word. For ways to cultivate an environment of trust, you can read this article.
2. Lowly. Lowly describes a position of humility. I believe we all start in this position; before the temptation to be proud of one’s own achievements sets in. Matthew 23:12 says, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Humility matters. Jesus humbled himself – as a baby and later at the cross – for us. He knew better and could do better than anyone else on earth, but He never acted proud. Any “I’m better than you” attitude should be curbed in favor of a humble, lowly attitude in our students.
3. Loving. Loving means showing love or great care. It can also mean tenderhearted. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian cognitive neuroscientist, says that our brains are wired for love and through life we learn fear. God programmed us to love! To be loving comes naturally to kids. Is your classroom a safe place of love? Do we call children by name? Do we let them share from their heart? I’ve been amazed at some of the innocent, tenderhearted things kids say when I give them an opportunity to share a testimony.
4. Forgiving. Think about it; who is better at holding grudges? Kids or adults? Can we all break out in song right now, “Let it go, let it go…!” Am I the only one who needs that reminder?! Being willing and able to forgive comes more naturally to children. Ephesians 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” We should never outgrow a forgiving nature.
As I look at these characteristics of childlike faith, I can’t help but see Jesus. What a perfect balance He is of maturity and childlike faith! I want to impress these qualities on my class; on myself. I want to be a kidult. I want to train up kidults. And my definition of kidult is those who have put away childish things, but never lose their childlike faith.