One of the most quoted passages in Scripture just so happens to be about kids.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14 NIV>
There He was. Surrounded by important people. But when Jesus was approached by a group of small children, He stopped what He was doing and welcomed them … even though His friends tried to push them away.
It might not seem like a big deal. But what Jesus did was revolutionary.
At the time, kids weren’t revered or respected or accepted in the public square. They were often “shushed” and cast aside — especially in the presence of great teachers like Jesus.
But I’m willing to bet that Jesus didn’t just give this tribe of tiny troopers a quick prayer and courtesy visit. I think He pulled out all the stops to make sure each one felt like the most important person at the party — with lots of laughter, silly jokes, hair tussles and maybe some spin-arounds. (Can you even imagine the height on those airplane rides?!)
WHY TO DE-CHILDPROOF YOUR LIFE
If there’s anything we can take away from this story, it’s that Jesus loves children. And through this unusual act of compassion, He proved a few things:
Kids are LOVED.
Kids are IMPORTANT.
Kids are WELCOME.
With our busy lives and grown-up responsibilities, we all could do a little de-childproofing.
Wes Stafford, Compassion’s former president, once said:
“Every meeting with a child is a divine appointment.”
And it’s true.
Each and every single one. From the play-catch requests to the “one more story” to the little friend running to you from across the street, smiling at you in the grocery line, or telling you in a letter about their favorite class.
Sometimes I wonder if God is asking:
What can you teach them about Me?
What can THEY teach you about Me?
And how will you welcome these little ones who I love so dearly?
So, let’s “de-Childproof”.
What can we do to break down the barriers that keep kids from understanding how much they are loved, cherished and valued by us and by God?
Whether you’ve got kids of your own, kids across the street or kids you sponsor, here’s a de-childproofing checklist to begin welcoming them more into your life — and to be insanely blessed by some of God’s favorites while you’re at it.
1. Stand in awe.
Every single kid you come across is a unique soul handmade in the image of God: under construction, maybe mischievous, fiercely loved and created with a purpose that — for reasons you might not know till later —you get to be a part of. Don’t take that for granted. Stand back and smile or find a way to get involved long term.
2. Stop what you’re doing.
When a child approaches you or shouts your name, take two minutes to drop down to your bum (or spin them around) and show them they are worthy of your time. No matter how busy you might be.
Pray for the kids in your life. For big things, small things, and opportunities to make a difference in their lives.
4. Listen up.
Their story might go on and on. But it’s important to them. When we take the time to make their little things feel like big things, they’ll be more likely to share the really big things later.
5. Make a big deal.
You know that fridge drawing, or macaroni necklace, or bug in a jar? Getting excited about what kids are excited about proves that what they care about is important —now and for the rest of their lives.
6. Be a safe space.
Today’s world can be scary. Do your best to create an environment where kids know they can come to you to share a hug, a story, a worry or even a secret. You can be their protector, friend and advocate.
7. Encourage their potential.
Kids don’t always have the freedom to dream. The kiddo in front of you (or across the globe) has been custom-designed to be a great teacher, the world’s best doctor, or the most kind-hearted soul on the planet. Ask about their dreams, affirm the talent you see, and encourage them to take on the world — no matter how small it might seem at the time.
8. Care for orphans.
Jesus is pretty clear about caring for the orphans and widows. I believe this passage can be extended a bit. Do you have an opportunity to care for a child who feels alone? To help a single parent? To get certified to baby-sit your friends’ foster children? To get more involved with the child you sponsor? There are so many ways to answer God’s call to care for the children He loves so much. What’s holding you back?
9. Stock the cookie jar. (And they don’t even have to be cookies.)
When I was little, I remember going over to my next-door neighbor’s house. She’d always offer us these tiny Italian cookies with rainbow sprinkles. I can still remember how they smelled, and feeling like I was pretty special when I went over to Mrs. Derro’s house.
What can you do to make your space a place that kids want to be — when they stop by your desk at work or visit your home? Toys, snacks, books, games… things that say, “You are special, and I am SO glad you are here!”
10. Write a letter.
Children can’t wait to hear from you! Even a quick note, postcard, or photo can brighten a child’s entire day. Consider it your superpower in a sealable envelope.
11. Let them ahead.
You know that frazzled mom with the cart full of more kiddos than Eggos? Let her ahead in the line at the store. It’s an easy way to show respect for the cargo she’s carting.
12. Take them on adventures.
Whether it’s taking a child to explore something new or bringing the adventures to your sponsored child through photos and stories, you can help spark kids’ imaginations and keep them dreaming.
13. Celebrate birthdays.
A child’s birthday is a special day. There’s no one else like them on the entire planet. Celebrate with a phone call, a special gift, or a hug to let them know how thankful you are to have them in your life. (And while you might not be able to send that soccer ball to the child you sponsor, you can send a birthday gift. Staff at the church where he or she attends will make sure to pick out a special gift that will bring a smile to his or her face!)
De-childproofing is a simple concept you can use to show every child God has placed in your path that they are known, loved and protected.
How do you de-childproof your life? Share your secrets in the comments below.