The Child-Like Parent/Teacher

”At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them. And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1-4).

What a contrast! Visually, can you picture this scene in your mind’s eye? Twelve ”great” men and one little child. The twelve disciples of Jesus standing and one little child set ”in the midst of them.” What visual instruction! The disciples’ eyes all turn from looking at each other and focus on this little child. What a contrast verbally! Can you hear the disciples’ lofty questioning in verse 1? Contrast this with the profound silence in verse 2, as they all stare at this little child. What does Jesus mean by placing this child in the center? Do you hear the contrast in content? The disciples are asking about who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? But Jesus responds by speaking about one who is just entering into the kingdom. What does this teach me, as a parent or teacher? It speaks about my motive and goal. Humility not loftiness; child-likeness and not king-likeness mark the greatest. This is not true in the kingdom of this world, but it is true in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus reminded His disciples of the greatness of humility. As parents or teachers, we too need to be continually reminded of this. Not loftiness and pride; not thinking great thoughts about ourselves; not expecting everyone to bow to us produces great teachers or parents, but child-like humility.

By nature we miss the target totally because we aim in the wrong direction. We need to be converted, to be turned around. We want to achieve greatness by becoming greater and greater. We like to talk about who is the greatest teacher, parent, child of God, or office-bearer. But Jesus informs us that this is all backwards thinking. Our hearts and motives and as a result, our thoughts, words, and actions all need to be turned around. The most humble, the most child-like is the greatest.

What does it mean to become more child-like?  Young children display simplicity, honesty, unpretentiousness, trust. and humility, do they not? Parents, what do you observe in your young children? Kindergarten teachers, what do you witness in your students’? Do they not believe that which you tell them? It’s true because Dad said, or ”teacher” told us! Do they proudly think that they know better than everyone else.” Are they not satisfied with simple answers’? Do they not believe and trust you’? Such children, in the faith, are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Have you ever observed a toddler first walking? Notice how he or she keeps looking at mom or dad. If mom or dad are not close, the toddler experiences fear. To whom does the toddler turn, to whom does he/she cry? Parents, are you parents who don't dare to take a step without God’s presence.” Teachers, are you teachers who need the LORD in all you do’? The parents and teachers whose walks are the closest with the LORD are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven – they convey genuine child-like humility. The greatest faith believes simply because ”God said.” Great faith does not need lengthy explanations about why, how, and how come. It simply believes and trusts God. as a child does its parent and teacher. The greater one becomes in the kingdom of heaven, the more one desires to sit at the feet of the king.

Parents and teachers are placed in positions of authority. They must instruct others. They must correct and discipline. They must show others how to think, speak and live. How can they do these things, if they are not child-like’? Jesus’ disciples were also called to teach and lead, were they not.’ Yet, Jesus placed a little child in the middle of these teachers and said, ”Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of’ heaven.”

What a contrast when a child or student is admonished. corrected or disciplined by a parent or teacher who is great in self-thought, or by one who is great in God-thought!   Both can be firm, but the one is so haughty while the other is humble.