“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14
What is your earliest memory of your childhood? I remember my dad teaching me a prayer which we would pray together every night:
Gentle Jesus meek and mild, look upon a little child.
Pity in my simplicity, suffer me to come to Thee.
For years, I thought that this prayer went like this:
Gentle Jesus meek and mild, look upon a little child;
Pity mice and plicity
Suffer me to come to thee, Amen
I always wondered why we needed to pray for mice and I never did work out what plicity was, but if my dad said we needed to pray for it, then I was happy to do so. It was always nice to talk to Jesus just before going to sleep and of course, I loved having my dad with me to help me feel safe.
In the Gospel of Matthew, we encounter a beautiful and profound interaction between Jesus and the children. As learning leaders, there is much that we can learn from this encounter and the teachings of Jesus. Jesus’ words, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” hold a profound message for us as we strive to bring our faith to life.
Children possess a remarkable capacity for innocence, trust, and unadulterated faith. They approach life with open hearts and minds, uninhibited by doubt or scepticism. They exhibit a natural curiosity and an unwavering belief in the goodness of others. Jesus recognized the significance of these qualities and invited the children to come to Him.
In a kind of counter cultural dynamic, embracing childlike faith, can lead to a deeper connection with our Heavenly Father. Just as children wholeheartedly place their trust in their parents, Jesus invites and encourages childlike trust in God and God’s love.
Jesus’ statement reminds us that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those with a childlike spirit. It’s not about age or worldly accomplishments; rather, it’s about the condition of our hearts. Jesus invites us to embody qualities such as humility, trust, and a sincere desire to welcome His presence.
As leaders and educators, we are entrusted with nurturing and guiding others, especially the students and families in our care, in their spiritual journeys. Let us learn from the example set by Jesus in His love for the children. Just as He embraced them, let us welcome and encourage all in their spiritual journey, regardless of their age or stage of life.
Jesus extends His invitation to all, inviting us to receive Him with childlike faith. Jesus invites us to approach Him with open hearts, bringing to him, our doubts and fears.
Jesus invites us to learn from our children and their profound and unwavering faith, as we walk with Christ and receive the gift of the fullness of His kingdom.
Pastor Brenton Altmann
Director Identity & Formation