If you are in children’s ministry, it’s probably because you love the kids you work with. Yes, you may complain about their bad behavior or sour attitude. You may even get frustrated with their lack of interest, manners or respect, but they’re the reason you stay up late to prepare, show up early to teach and miss out on the many good things your church has to offer (like Bible study groups for adults that happen on Sunday or even a church service).
I don’t doubt that you have a deep and genuine love for your students, however I do wonder how much they feel your love? And even more importantly, do you love them in a way that makes the love of their Abba Father tangible and real?
In other words, is your love offering them a rich taste of God’s incredible goodness? When they look into your eyes, do they see the face of God looking back at them with eyes of delight, with eyes that see the treasure that lies beyond their failings? When they hear your voice, do they get a taste of Christ taking pleasure in them? When they’re in your classroom, do they catch a glimpse of God’s heart that beats wildly with excitement over who they are and who they will become?
YOU SEE, EVERYTHING WE DO IN CHILDREN’S MINISTRY SHOULD BEGIN AND END WITH ONE WORD—LOVE.
Really, we have only one reason for everything that we do. To make God’s love real to kids. If we don’t get it right, all our creativity, all our cutting edge methods, and all our enormous efforts will amount to nothing.
When we forget or neglect our primary calling—to help children discover and experience God’s love—we settle for a dangerous counterfeit: the way of moralism. Simply put, moralism is instructing children in biblical principles and exhorting them to do what’s right. It certainly has the appearance of godliness but it leads to one of two dead ends—pride (feeling good about my own righteousness resulting from doing what’s right and good) or despair (feeling shame over all the ways I messed up and failed to keep God’s commandments).
It’s time to find a better way (a more excellent way—1 Cor. 12:31) to disciple the next generation. It’s time to free our sons and daughters from the pressure that moralism creates. It’s time to put a smile on God’s face and laughter in His voice, and teach the children the most important lesson:
JESUS LOVES ME THIS I KNOW.
It’s time that we release the power of God through the way we relate to children, so they can experience God’s love and in turn, love God back so completely and with such consuming passion that they would hate anything that comes between them and Jesus and eagerly give it up.
Apostle John put it this way, “we love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Notice the order—first, we experience God’s love for ourselves, then we are able to love others like He does. It is God’s love and God’s love alone that produces any lasting change in boys and girls. Only after they’ve been convinced that God delights in them, celebrates them and accepts them, warts and all, will they want to love Him back and live a life of obedience.
Since loving children is such a powerful force that joins them with the heart of Christ, I offer you 12 ways to genuinely love them and as a result, incline their hearts toward God.
NOTE: Even though I present this material primarily to the people involved in children’s ministry in a local church setting, parents will be able to use it too. After all…parents are teachers and shepherds of their children’s souls, aren’t they? If you’re a parent, you might also want to download this poster I created specifically for moms and dads.
1. PRAY FOR THEM
In John 17, Jesus gives us example of what this may look like. First, He acknowledges that while He was with His disciples, He protected them and kept them safe. But now that He’s going away and leaving them behind, He is entrusting them to God: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.
The world in which our children are growing up is increasingly uncertain, unstable and hostile. While we cannot hide our children away from the world, we can be proactive in guarding them. We can shield them in far greater ways than wrapping them in a plastic bubble or locking them in their rooms for the rest of their lives. You and I can pray. We can intercede for our children, praying for wisdom, protection, peace, and strength. Your prayers are the biggest weapon you have to protect and raise up a godly generation.
The second part of the prayer that Jesus offered for His disciples has to do with their future: My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message.
When we pray for the protection of our children, our prayers are defensive in nature. When we pray for their futures, the nature of our prayers is offensive; we are praying for the impact their lives will have. Both kinds of prayers are important. Here are some starting points to help you craft prayers for your students. Pray for their…
- SALVATION—that they will trust Christ as their Savior. (See Psalm 63:1 and II Timothy 3:15.)
- COMPASSION—that they will have tender hearts and show compassion on those in need and who have less than they do. (Ephesians 4:32.)
- HOLINESS—that they will have a hatred of sin. (See Psalm 97:10.)
- COURAGE—that they will be brave as they face the challenges that are before them. (See Joshua 1:9.)
- PROTECTION—that they will be protected from the evil one in each area of their lives: spiritual, emotional and physical. (See John 17:15 and Matthew 6:13.)
- RESPECT—that they will respect those in authority over them. (See Romans 13:1.)
- FRIENDS—that they will desire the right kind of friends and be protected from the wrong friends. (See Proverbs 1:10–11.)
- WISDOM—that they will grow in wisdom and understanding. That they’ll be more than “smart” and embrace what is good and right. (James 1:5)
- PEACE—that their hearts will be calm and peaceful as they go through their day and in their sleep at night. (See Philippians 4:6.)
- DIRECTION—that God will lead them as they begin to make more and more decisions as they get older. (Proverbs 3:5-6.)
2. BE HONEST WITH THEM
One of the best things we can do for our students is to be open and honest about our journey to and with God, about our struggles and failures, and how our mistakes and blunders have shaped us into the people we are today.
We have to be real. Genuine. Ourselves. Students can sense hypocrisy a mile away, and it will turn them off faster than anything. We are not perfect. And we don’t always have it all together. When we’re authentic about our own struggles, we show them that our faith is real and we model how God can work in us to change us and mold us into His image. (Of course, we should exercise discernment and make sure that our honesty is age-appropriate and harmless.)
Here are several great benefits of being honest with your students:
- If you’re open and honest with your students, they’ll be more likely to be open and honest with you. It would be pretty difficult to expect your children to be real and truthful when you don’t do the same.
- If you can honestly admit your mistakes and talk about the embarrassing incidents from your life, your students will see in you a relatable authority figure; someone safe and understanding that they can go to when they need someone the most.
- If your students see that you have made mistakes, survived, learned from them and were made a better person because of them, they will realize that to make a mistake is to be human, and that even the worst of mistakes isn’t the end of the world. Your students will build self-confidence from your honesty, and that’s so vital.
Bottom line… Admit mistakes. Laugh. Apologize. Let your students prove you wrong. Let them know what makes you happy, scared or angry. Let the students see that you are human. Crazy thing, students like imperfect humans more than flawless teachers.
3. DISCOVER THEM
Your students, like all human beings, long to be known. They desperately want to feel that they and their life stories matter. That’s why it’s so important that you take every chance you get to enter into their world and explore it as if it were a treasure island. The best way to discover your students is by asking them questions.
Ask about their family, their pets, their dreams, their video games and sports teams, anything about them. Let them know you’re interested in them. If they don’t come out and tell you what’s going on in their lives, take the initiative. Show them that you are sincerely interested in what is going on in their lives.
As you get to know your students and the lives they live, you will develop a deep awareness of their challenges and needs. This information will give you ideas for making the curriculum more relevant to their lives. Your efforts to get to know them will prove to them that you see them as people, not students. They’ll love you for that.
Here are a few questions to help you get to know your students better:
- What has been the happiest day of your life?
- If you could change one thing in the world what would you change?
- If you could change one thing about yourself what would you change?
- What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
- What is your favorite movie of all time? Why?
- What is the worst thing about being ____ years old?
- What is the best thing about being ___ years old?
- What job would you like to have when you grow up?
- Who is your best friend? Why are they your best friend?
- If you could take a family vacation any place in the world, where would you go?
- If you had three wishes, what would they be? (You can’t wish for money or another wish!)
- Do you believe in God?
- Is there something about God that doesn’t make sense to you?
- What is the one thing you would like to learn how to do and why?
- What are five things you wish I knew about you?
- If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
Another great way to discover your students is by talking to the experts. Who else can give you more insight into your students than their parents, right? So why not ask them? Here’s a five-question survey we ask the parents in our church to fill out in the beginning of each school year. Their answers provide us with the greater understanding of the students and specific ways we can care for them and serve them. Feel free to adapt this questionnaire and use it in your ministry.
4. LISTEN TO THEM
If you’re going to ask questions to learn more about your students, the next logical step is to actively listen to them.
Sometimes you won’t need to ask any questions because as soon as a student steps into the classroom, they will want to tell you about how their family just got a new car or a new pet or a new brother or sister. It’s exciting news to them. They want to share it with everybody. Be that person who takes time to listen to their stories. Stop what you’re doing and take time to look them in their eyes and give value to what they have to say. It might not be that big of a deal to you, but by giving value to what makes them excited, you show that you give value to them.
5. BLESS THEM
The practice of blessing originated with God and it’s clear that it means a great deal to Him, as it should to us. He was the first to bless His children in Genesis 1. Out of the 12 tribes of Israel God set apart one tribe to carry out a series of very unique tasks. One of those tasks was to daily bless the nation of Israel (Deut. 10:8). Jesus found time to bless the children who were brought to Him and His very last act on earth was to bless His disciples (Luke 24:50,51).
Today, it seems that the concept of speaking blessings over the next generation has been forgotten. However, if we take a closer look we will discover that the principle of blessing runs all throughout God’s Word. It’s interesting to see how Old Testament saints understood the power of blessing. Abraham blessed Isaac, and Isaac blessed Jacob. Jacob blessed his 12 sons. These blessings were not just lofty prayers or flowery words. As we read through the Bible we discover that the blessings people prayed actually came to pass.
The best way I know how to explain the blessing is to compare it to a crowning ceremony. Once the royal crown is placed on a person’s head it sets them apart, giving them a special place of honor and authority. To bless is to pass honor and glory to another person (to make them feel important and empowered). That is exactly what God did when He blessed Adam and Eve—He crowned them with honor and glory (see Hebrews 2:7-8 and Psalm 8:4-6). Sin de-crowned humanity and introduced us to shame and feeling of worthlessness (Romans 3:23 and Genesis 3). Jesus came to earth, removed from us the crown of shame and wore it to the cross, and now, don’t miss this, He is “bringing many sons and daughters to glory… and He is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters” (Hebrews 2:10-11). Did you notice what Jesus is doing? Read it again if you missed it.
If you were able to peek into Jesus’ to-do-list for today, you would most definitely see this line at the top of the page: “make my children feel lovely”—that’s what bringing to glory means.
What I love about Jesus is that He doesn’t speak to our inadequacies, shortcomings and weaknesses. We know them too well and don’t need to be reminded of how bad we are (shame doesn’t let us forget). No, He speaks to the treasure that God placed inside of us and He calls it to the surface. And that is what it means to bless another person—to speak to the treasure that the person themselves doesn’t realize they have.
In their book Prayer Saturated Kids, Cheryl Sacks and Arlyn Lawrence say,
The powerful truth about blessings is this: They don’t depend upon the character or condition of the one receiving them. Words of blessing communicate unconditional value and are not linked to a child’s performance or outward appearance. Please do not confuse the words bless with the word praise—because those who need blessing the most are often the ones who deserve praise the least. When we bless our children, we do so not based upon their achievements but upon God’s desires for their lives. This is the reason that we impart blessings “by faith.” Hebrews tells us that “by faith” Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, and “by faith” Jacob blessed each of Joseph’s sons (11:20-21).
We bless our children not because of who they are but so they can be all God wants them to be. Blessings bring out the best in others. So start blessing your child and see what God will do!
Look for opportunities to bless your students. So many of them have experienced rejection and shame. So many of them dwell in fear and doubt. So many of them live in brokenness and despair feeling unlovable and unworthy. Yet with your words you can change all that. You can dispel the darkness and bring your students into glory. You can the rags of shame and place a royal crown on their heads. With your words you can release enormous good, give birth to dreams and set into motion God’s wonderful plans for their lives.
A good starting point would be to regularly ask God about how He sees each of your students and then announce to them God’s marvelous thoughts and dreams for their life.
- When you know it’s someone’s birthday in your class, let them sit on the decorated chair (think royal throne). Have everyone gather around them and share some things that they like about this person. Finish by praying a blessing over the student’s upcoming year.
- Train your youth group on how to impart blessing and then take them over to the children’s classrooms and let them pray blessings over the children. No doubt teenagers will be just as encouraged by giving blessings as the younger kids will be by receiving them.
6. CELEBRATE THEM
To celebrate our students is to make them feel significant; it’s to remind them that they are not invisible and that there’s someone rejoicing when something good is happening to them.
There are so many things to celebrate about your children: a new tooth, a new puppy, a new baby in the family, a new pair of shoes, a winning game, an exciting vacation, successful surgery and a myriad of special days (birthday, baptism, graduation, first week of school, accepting Jesus and so on).
Did you know that celebrating children is part of your job description? The Bible commands us to be happy with those who are happy (Romans 12:15). The art of celebration is very simple. All you need to do is slow down your pace, open your ears and heart, and when you come across something good in your student’s life, smile wide and let your heart be filled with gladness. Who knows, your rejoicing over your students might change their perception of God and convince them that He’s less like a somber grudge and more like a happy dad. Perhaps your rejoicing over your students will make it easier for them to believe that God “will laugh and be happy about you, like people at a party” and that He “celebrates and sings for joy because of you” (Zephaniah 3:17).
7. SURPRISE THEM
As a shepherd of children’s souls, each time you enter the classroom you have the opportunity to bring unexpected joy into the lives of the children you teach. Surprises have a way of bringing a breath of fresh air to the stale routine of daily living. There are so many examples of how God used surprises to accomplish His plan.
God has brought delightful surprises to His creations since the very beginning. When God brought Adam a helper and companion, Adam’s breath was taken away. When the heavenly visitors told Abraham that his elderly wife will have a child, Sarah burst out in laughter. To her surprise, she burst out in laughter again as God fulfilled His promise. God’s surprises continued with Abraham’s offspring. In the wilderness the Israelites encountered quail flying so low that they could be plucked from the air for dinner. They gathered manna that fell from heaven. They watched armies routed as Moses held his arms high. They crossed a river at flood stage without even getting wet and brought the mighty Jericho to the ground simply by shouting at the top of their lungs. And the surprises continued on.
God is never predictable and is always full of surprises which in turn fills us with the sense of awe and wonder. Perhaps, God’s biggest surprise came in the shape of His Son.
- Jesus surprised the nation of Israel by coming to earth as an ordinary, helpless baby.
- Jesus surprised religious leaders of His day by hanging out with sinners.
- Jesus surprised His disciples by choosing the rugged cross over the royal throne.
- Ultimately, He surprised all of us by freely offering us the gift of forgiveness and inviting all undeserving sinners to be part of His family.
Even today God is using surprises to show how remarkable and unbelievable His ways are compared to our expectations. While you may not be able to perform miracles, you can use surprise and delight to help children experience the same awe and wonder God showered on His children.
The essence of a surprise is the unexpected. Most children have been lolled into a sense of predictability that dulls their senses and numbs their brains. You can shake things up and awaken their senses by doing something out of the ordinary. You can create a positive experience of the unexpected. For example, you can surprise your students by asking them something specific about their week that you remembered was important to them. You can also have someone walk in on your story dressed like one of the characters in your lesson. Or you can provide an unexpected treat. Or you could sabotage the classroom with silly string as you’re talking about celebrating our joy in Christ.
What surprises are in order for your children?
8. AROUSE CURIOSITY
Curiosity is the best teacher. When we are curious we are motivated to discover the unknown. Children cannot be curious unless they’re given the freedom to explore, the time to dream or some unscheduled moments to make an adventure.
Curious children get stuck in trees because they have to climb up and see what’s it like to be up so high. A curiosity-nurturing adult helps build a ladder and a stand so the child doesn’t fall too far. Curious children have to touch the stove once just to see if it’s really hot. They don’t take your word for it. A curiosity-nurturing adult has a well-stocked supply of bandages and kisses for all the “ouchies” to come. A curious child takes the box apart that the refrigerator comes in and makes a fort or a rocket. And a curiosity-nurturing adult doesn’t mind a mess in the family room or the classroom for a little while, but pulls out a garbage can for a child when it’s time to clean up. A curious child asks, “Why?” and gets great answers that call for more “whys” and “how comes.” A curiosity-nurturing adult is patient and answers with short answers knowing that longer ones are not far behind. Curious children don’t sit still for too long. They wander through the different activities in the classroom. A curiosity-nurturing adult allows for these choices—a few for younger children and a few more for the older ones. Curious children are self-taught through their own experiences. They find out that worms are sticky, wiggly, stretchy and smelly by handling them. A curiosity-nurturing adult carefully adds detail to their discovery so the worms point children to the wisdom and kindness of God. A curious child sometimes cries, falls down or hurts himself. A curiosity-nurturing adult gives comfort and reassurance without “I told you so” lectures.
Do you trust the living God to speak to children in their search? Their questions? Their discoveries? Their journey?
Consider your classroom as a laboratory of untold discoveries just waiting to be found. Only God knows what new insights and epiphanies children will have during your lessons. Young minds have gathered to hear stories of faith. Fantastic adventures—both past and future—are waiting for them. What will they find? What will they discover? Many teachers are simply content to relay their own discoveries to their students, but you don’t want to be one of them. While there’s a place for sharing insights and experiences, teaching isn’t just telling and learning isn’t just listening. Remember that your experience and insight is not the starting point of any lesson. Rather the starting point is the learners’ curiosity. Students must want to discover the Scriptures for themselves if God’s Word is to take shape, have meaning and be enthusiastically embraced.
What’s the best way to nurture curiosity and set kids on the quest for truth? The answer is simple—ask more questions. Don’t deny them the hard work of wrestling with questions and thinking. If you give them a canned answer, they’ll forget it. If you help them to make a discovery, they’ll own it.
Analyze your last interaction with children—did you ask questions? Did you foster curiosity? Did you listen? Did you guide them on a search for answers or did you choose the easy path of giving the children instant answers. While it might kill the cat, curiosity can certainly create a climate of learning that leads to truth and transformation.
9. ENCOURAGE THEM
To encourage simply means to pass on courage, and you do it by expressing your belief in your kids. So many of your students struggle with a poor or improper self-image. They play the comparison game and see that someone is always smarter, prettier, more talented or richer than they are. They need someone in their lives who believes in them, even when they can’t believe in themselves.
So many children are bound by the fear of failure or worse, the fear of someone noticing that they are failing. Your encouragement has the power to break the chains of fear and give your students wings to soar. When you encourage children, you make them feel good about themselves and confident about their future. When children feel good about themselves, it sets them up for success — in everything from school to friendships. When you encourage children, you inspire them to do their best, try new challenges, cope with mistakes, and try again.
To properly encourage your students, you need to develop one important skill—the ability to see past who they are right now and instead focus on what they can become. When you encourage a child, you accomplish two things. One, you make them feel special. Two, you propel them into a wonderful future, inspiring them to be all they were created by God to be.
- Encourage children with your voice, call out to them by name.
- Encourage children with your tone, gently remind them to keep going.
- Encourage children by catching them doing good and then lavishing them with praise.
- Encourage children by expecting them to succeed—they need you to believe in them first before they can believe in themselves.
- Encourage children by not giving up. They will push you, but you will stand strong and they will gain security.
- Encourage children by showering them with praise. Be sure to praise them for the efforts and not just for the results.
- Encourage children by bragging about them to their parents. Tell their parents how wonderful they were that day.
Can children find encouragement in your classroom? They’re searching for someone or something that tells them that they’re special, that they have value and that they matter to God. Give your students God’s good gift of a real sense of self, positive value and a great future in Christ Jesus.
Take a moment and think about the children in your life. Who can use your encouragement today? Now that you have a name or two, how will you let them know that you believe in them and that they have what it takes?
10. ENJOY THEM
You work with children but do you like kids? Would you say that kids like you? It’s not a prerequisite to start the job of teaching children, but love for children should be evident if you are to continue teaching. It’s like the old “chicken or the egg” question—which comes first?
Some people get involved in children’s ministry because they love kids. Other people love children because they got involved in children’s ministry. You don’t have to start off loving children, but as you come to know them, your love should grow. If it doesn’t, you might want to think about moving on to another ministry.
Let’s face it: If you can’t stand being around children, they’re probably are not too excited that you are their teacher. Every teacher has bad weeks. We all get tired and discouraged at times, but we must never lose our love and joy for children. Relationship is the essential element for an effective ministry.
If you are aloof or indifferent toward children, how can you possibly minister to them? When you see a child looking at you, does it make you smile? When you spot children in the passing car, do their stares make you smirk, wave or even make a funny face? When you see a group of children playing and giggling on the playground, do you find yourself watching, smiling or maybe even joining in?
One way to look at the word “enjoy” is to define it as “entering into joy.” It’s not enough to greet your students with a faint, lukewarm and uninvolved smile. To truly enjoy children you have to join them in their joy.
Lifeguards usually don’t appear to be enjoying the children they’re watching. They are concerned with safety and the rules of the facility. Contrast them to an adult who has jumped into the pool throwing children up in the air, racing them across the pool and splashing with them. That adult is concerned with safety and so much more. Who do you think will enjoy the day at the pool more? Who do you think the children will remember, relate to and open up to?
You don’t have to become childish to enjoy children, but you can enter into a child’s world. You can love them for who they are and enjoy the wonder, innocence and energy of childhood. Rather than just teaching children, join them in the learning adventure. Get on the floor with the children as you read that book. Join in on the games you have them play, the crafts you have them make or even the worship that you lead them in.
Your time with children is much too short to spend it with a scowl. Enjoy teaching. Enjoy children.
11. UNDERSTAND THEM
Do the children in your classroom feel like you know them? Do they feel like you understand them? Think of a child in your class, any child. Now think of 10 things you know about this child. Who is this child friends with? Who are his parents? What are his interests? What school does he attend? Did he accept Jesus as his Savior? Is there evidence that his faith in God is vibrant and real? What worries the child the most? Where did he go on vacation last summer? What’s important to this child? What are they striving for and dreaming about?
Certainly, you can show you care about this child without knowing the answers to these questions. However, if you were to gather all this information about a child, what would you knowledge say to that child? What would your effort to learn about and understand that child say?
Have you ever thought about the fact that our relationship with God is based on Him understanding us? Hebrews 4:15 says that because Jesus lived on earth and was tempted in every way, He is able to understand our weaknesses. As a result, we feel free to come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we receive mercy and kindness to help us when we need it. If being understood by God is essential to our relationship with Him, your students need to experience the same from you and me.
Understanding is not just a matter of the head, it is essentially a matter of the heart. It is an attitude that every child is important and worth knowing. It is a choice to make the effort to get to know every child. You may not be the best teacher in the world, but the children in your class don’t need the best teacher. They need you. They need you to care about who they are and what they’ll become. They need you to understand them, and when you understand the children in your class, you can really reach them. When you really reach a child, you’ll stand eternally as one of the essential milestones in that child’s faith journey.
12. INVOLVE THEM
If you are in a hurry and you want adult quality results then you’ll probably need to do things yourself. But teaching is more about the process then it is about the results. Teaching is about involving children in learning and guiding them as they make discoveries. Some things in the classroom should not involve children. Sharp scissors, heavy lifting or hot glue guns are not a good idea for young children. Clearly some tasks and processes are better left to adults. But most of the tasks and processes of the classroom should be shared with children so they learn, discover and develop the critical skills necessary for a life of faith.
Our role is a lot like training wheels. The students do the paddling and the balancing. The training wheels just support the children, preventing crashes and giving them confidence. How can you be the training wheels to the children in your classroom?
I would like to suggest three primary ways: Be intentional about involving the children, be patient with the children and let them learn through their mistakes.
- Be intentional about involving the children. As you prepare for the lesson, remind yourself that this is not a sports event where you are the player and they’re spectators. There should be no passive observers in your classroom. Everyone is a participant. Everyone has left the bleachers and joined in the game.
- Be patient with children. When you involve the children, they might not always get it right. They might stumble as at your request they read the Scripture aloud. They might mess up and play the wrong sound effect or show the wrong clip. They might not act out their part of the skit with as much zeal as you wanted them to have. When you encounter their imperfections, take a deep breath and whisper the words of Proverbs 16:32 to your spirit: “It is better to be patient than to be a strong soldier. It is better to control your anger than to capture a city.” An impatient teacher can crush a child’s desire to learn and participate. An impatient teacher can chase a child from the church and even the faith. Patience doesn’t require that you excuse or ignore mistakes, rather patience dictates your response to the failure. Will you snap and unleash a verbal fury on a child? Will you shame the child with demeaning comments about his or her performance? Or instead will you calmly and forthrightly deal with the situation offering grace and mercy? Have you ever seen a child walking with a parent who’s too occupied to notice that the poor little guy is being rushed faster than he is able to walk? Let that be a good reminder that the pace of progress is not determined by the teacher. Christian education nurtures a life of faith only when it keeps pace with the learner. If you ever want to witness a model of patience, look at Jesus’ forbearance with His own disciples
- Help children learn through mistakes. When you involve children, trusting them with various part of the lesson, inevitably they will fail. If you’re a parent and your students are babies learning to walk, is your classroom a soft floor on which children’s mistakes and misgivings can safely land or is it a concrete slab riddled with sharp criticisms, frustration and unrealistic expectations? Does your classroom allow for exploration, discovery and intrigue? Or is it focused on results with little concern for the journey of learning? How is your classroom prepared to support children through their mistakes as they learn? With the focus our culture places on success we often deliver disappointment or even disgust when mistakes are made. Let’s imitate our Lord in extending grace and remembering that mistakes are an essential part of learning.
In conclusion, I want to thank you for pouring your life into the next generation of Christ-followers. You have the most important job in the world—connecting the children to the heart of God by making His love real and tangible. This 12-point list is by no means complete, so I would like to hear about other ways you have discovered to REALLY love children.
Points 7-12 have been inspired, adapted and sometimes directly quoted from Keith Johnson’s Training on the Go.
This article originally appeared here.