Teach Them to Go

By Jim Allen

I have a granddaughter turning five soon. She came to visit one day. Upon arriving she took off her shoes and left them for everyone to trip over. Realizing the hazard, I explained to her that in our house we have rules. I politely asked her, in a cheerful tone with a smile, to place her shoes where no one would trip over them.

She looked at me and said, "I don't like rules." Surprised by her reply I said, "Well...when you're in my house you follow the rules." She looked at me and said, "I still don't like rules," and walked away leaving her shoes behind.

Ouch! What was that all about? She took the conversation from a meek and mild mannered request to a direct no. I had never seen this reaction in her before now. Is this how defiance begins in a child?

Up to this point Kristi had been a model granddaughter and still is, except for this one instance. What changed? How do I handle this? The Bible says train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart (Proverbs 22:6).

Was a training session in order? If so, which verses apply? What does a four-year old (now almost five) understand about rules? I began to reason with her about the hazard of someone tripping and falling, and that rules help everyone get along and stay safe.

Not giving up, I was persistent and persuaded her to get the shoes and put them in a safe place where people wouldn't trip over them. God is sometimes like that with us. He won't let us get away with certain things until we learn the lesson, however long it may take (Psalm 103:8).

Kristi came back with her shoes and threw them in front of the couch. Detecting an attitude, my wife and I looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking: "Now what?" Though we made some progress, we didn't know where this newest wrinkle would take us? Would an object lesson help Kristi see the need for obeying one simple rule?

Walking away and returning a few minutes later I tripped (on purpose) over her shoes and fell down. My wife, quick to figure out my game, asked if I was okay. Of course, Kristi was showing concern, realizing she was partly at fault. After a few bogus moans and groans I got up. I don't know if my acting performance was right or wrong before God but it seemed to make a connection with Kristi about the importance of obeying one simple rule.

As time would have it, the day passed and there was no more rebellion. Since that unforgettable day, Kristi now places her shoes where no one will trip. Soon she will learn about the Ten Commandments and the importance of following God's rules because they keep life simple and people safe.

When riding in the car we tell her about the rules grownups follow to stay safe. She knows the red light means stop, yellow means get ready and green means go. Kristi has yet to see a car accident at an intersection. But I suspect someday she will and know, without asking, someone didn't follow the rules.

How is it possible for an almost five-year old to see the wisdom in following a simple rule when grownups have troubling following any rule? Though Kristi is too young to understand these things, she is innocent before the Lord and secure (Matthew 18:10). But, that she is willing to learn and see the meaning in obeying a rule has eternal value.

In closing, little children have a way of reminding grownups about Bible verses learned early in life. Kristi reminded me that "…if our faith is genuine and true, we will live a lifestyle characterized by righteousness, modeling the example set for us by Jesus Christ. We obey His commands, not because we have to, but because we want to, because we love Him"(Source).

Kristi doesn't understand things like righteousness and modeling an example for others to follow. What she and children like her do understand is love and gentle persuasion. They choose to obey because they love us and we love them.

And while what we do for them is important, the way we teach them to go is eternally more so (Proverbs 22:6).


Image: Courtesy Jim Allen

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Family-Life  | Personal-Life  | Personal-Relationships

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Published 5-9-16