Review of Chapter 2, “Building Castles in the Clouds”
by Christen St John
Chapter two of Too Small to Ignore can be summed up perfectly by reading the first two paragraphs.
“For children, today is all about tomorrow. By nature, they look to the future, since so very little of life lies behind them. Everything worthwhile is ‘in front’. The future is waiting to happen for them. How a child feels about his or her future has everything to do with what is going on in life today. In their mysterious and wonderful minds, children observe, absorb, and apply a tremendous amount of information for their earliest moments. They are busy discovering their world, finding their place in it, figuring out what they might do. It is a delicate and formative span of time.”
Dr. Stafford shares a story with us in this chapter about how his dad used to take him along when he was ministering to other villages. On these trips Stafford had a job to do. If the birds in the area became too loud while his father was sharing the gospel, he would wait for his dad’s signal and fire a shot into the trees with his trusty slingshot in order to scare the birds away. This silenced the birds and gave his father a few more minuits to preach to the those listening with baited breath. He explains that on the way home after he had completed his mission “Dad rarely said anything…he would reach his big hand over in the truck and give my knee a squeeze. Words weren’t necessary: we had done it together. I felt tremendously affirmed. Without someone to control the guinea hens and the wavebirds, how was Africa going to hear the gospel?” (pg.43).
It is important that we, as childrens ministers (in whatever capacity that may mean for you), foster a sense of ownership in our children. As I’m writing this I cannot believe my dumb luck! I have the best example for this. This morning in Sunday School we were talking about Solomon. I was explaining to the children that when he became King he was only a teenager and I asked the kids what they were most looking forward to when they became teenagers. I got the typical answers: driving, dating, getting a job to make money to buy what I want ; but I also got an atypical answer. One of my grade 4 girls raised her hand and said “voulunteering”. Volunteering! No way was I letting that opportunity pass me by. I proptly spit out “You don’t have to be a teenage to do that! You can do that now! In fact, you could all ask your parents about places where you could start volunteering now!” Sure, we teach our kids 1 Timothy 4:12 (“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young…”) but do we give them an opportunity to live it?
Dr. Stafford give us three steps to help mould our children into the adults we hope they become, but it all starts now.
- Go to them. Entre their world. Get on your kids level. Play with them, find out what makes them tick, what they are passionate about, what they want to be, what they dream about – and then encourage them in those endevours. If they want to be a teacher, play school with them.
- Bring them into your world. This one is a bit more painful. We should give our children opportunities to learn. Teach them how to bake cookies, or to use a screwdriver or to plant a garden/ make a compost pile. Yes, that means more clean up for you but it’s a) a lesson in patience 🙂 and b) it shows your kids that you value them enough to let them into your world.
- Merge the two worlds. Be friends with your kids. This doesn’t mean you should stop trying to be their parent / leader, but “what is needed is a genuine friendship with our children in which we really enjoy their company and they ours” (pg.50-51).
Well, what are you waiting for? Give it a try!