No long discourse today, only a simple thought.
Watching my son’s soccer team play, I thought how easy it is for us to watch those five and six-year-olds knowing that they’re just kids. We lower our expectations as a result. Any sense of progress means the world to us.
My son’s ball handling’s come a long way. His defensive play is light-years better this spring than last fall. He scored two goals on Saturday, four over the course of eight games, because he’s got a better sense of the game and where the ball’s going. He’s broken through gaps and taken good shots that he would have ignored in the fall. He’s greatly improved his play and I’m proud of him.
I realized walking off that field Saturday that we get such a glow out of our children when they make those baby steps of progress. Our expectations match their maturity level and seeing them do even one thing better means the world.
I also realized a greater truth.
We have low expectations for youngsters. We can look at someone and see that they are a child, then we adjust accordingly. How hard then to look at someone who appears to be an adult on the outside, yet is a child in the Faith. We don’t look hard enough for the spiritual child in them. We assume because they’re an adult on the outside that their faith matches that external appearance.
How much damage happens in the name of Christ because we make that assumption? We wouldn’t treat a five-year-old like a fifty-year-old in any other aspect of life, yet we all too readily will castigate the spiritual child for not being an adult.
I wish our spiritual eyes matched our physical ones. If we could see that a thirty-year-old Christian might only be a three-year-old in Christ, we’d act differently toward them, wouldn’t we? I hope we would, otherwise we would commit a sort of spiritual child abuse by asking of a spiritual child what he or she could not meet. Too often, we’d inflict punishment for a goal someone that young in the faith could not attain.
This week, think about the people you know who are Christians, especially the ones who are struggling in their faith. Many aren’t even to their spiritual teen years in maturity, yet we ask for adult responses from them, responses they have no reservoir of experience to pull from. Think about lowering your expectations and walking alongside them as a mentor or simply a more mature friend who cares.
Because children in the faith exist, and the best way for us to bring them to maturity is to recognize their inner spiritual child and help that child reach maturity in the proper fullness of time.