Featured Writer: Stephanie Taylor
While at church one Sunday, I found myself in a peculiar situation. Every ounce of instinct in my body was telling me to scream, or at the very least jump from my seat. While those would normally have been appropriate responses to being startled, I didn’t think the pastor would have appreciated such an interruption to his homily.
The reason my heart had skipped a beat is actually pretty humorous. A little boy from about 4 rows back had escaped the peripheral glances of his mother and had army crawled under the pews to carry out a sneak attack and grab my ankle. All in all, it was an amazing feat, and once over the shock, I was impressed.
In the next moment, I winked at the boy and motioned for him to come sit with me. I dug through my purse, found some pens that were usually reserved for grading papers, and the two of us sat through the remainder of the service drawing pictures and taking turns winning Tic-Tac-Toe.
What really struck me that day were the words from the gentleman sitting on my other side. As the young boy emerged from his slither, the gentleman gruffed under his breath, “We don’t do that kind of thing here, not at church!”
His statement made me wonder if we are taught to behave certain ways simply because the building requires it? It made me think about why and how we are taught to behave. I firmly believe that as Christ followers, Jesus is with us everywhere. He told us he would be with us always.
It makes more sense to model, not just for children and young people, but for all people the fact that certain behaviors are correct because of Christ in us and around us, not simply because it is a rule.
These thoughts have caused me to look at the scripture Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go…” through a new lens. The verse does not say, train a child in the way of the church. That’s not to say that the teachings of the church are unimportant, but that “the way he should go” training must have real life application and crossover. God in us compels us to behave certain ways and choose particular things no matter where we are; church, school, home, the movies.
There are no doubt courtesies that are extended in some situations that cannot be applied to all (running around without a shirt on is ok at home, but not at the neighbor’s house, etc). However, I hope that as the adults doing the teaching that we are able to instruct that God wants us to be the same person in all places and situations, asking first and foremost “What would be pleasing to God?” I think all of us, adults and children alike would benefit a great deal from making that more of a habit.
Children do and say silly things, and I love them for it. The last thought that went through my mind was of Jesus instructing the disciples to let the children come to him (Matthew 19:14). I bet he would have been ok with an army crawl or two.