Series: Childlike Heart
Message: Childlike Heart
Preacher: Jessyka Albert
Daily Walk: Jessyka Albert
Refresh: Open with prayer. Read or listen to Psalm 119:1-8.
Read: Matthew 18:1-6 (ESV). Re-read in the English Standard Version for new insights or questions.
Reflect: Two words: middle school. That concept in itself is worth a thousand words. You might be having a flashback to changing outfits, changing vocabulary, changing friends, changing bodies . . . constant change.
There’s no other time like middle school. Everything about you and the world around you is changing. Researchers are beginning to find that middle school is when kids are solidifying their opinions on life and faith. Churches have often put their focus on the “young adults” (18-30) to try and expose the problem and construct a solution. The trouble is, they’re looking at the wrong age group. The solution is found in the throws of middle school.
It’s no surprise what motivates our middle schoolers who live a life of constant change:
Middle schoolers are primarily motivated by acceptance. If you try to motivate a preteen through shame or embarrassment, it may work against their primary motive and lead to defeat and defensive behavior. But when you respond to them in a loving manner, you learn to listen more often, encourage more specifically, and guide more patience. Then you influence them to stop and think rationally before they respond in the moment (128).
Because of their constantly changing worlds, acceptance gives preteens the stability they not only need, but deserve. As adults we mutate the word acceptance and call it tolerance. Somewhere along the road we stopped trying to be accepting and we learned how to simply tolerate those around us.
Last time I checked, that’s not how Jesus walked the world. Jesus came from a perfect space with wonderful angels and beings came down to a world with impatient, selfish, lonely, sinful humans. He didn’t come and bring shame or embarrassment to us.
“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) here the word welcome in the original Greek is translated as receive or accept.
Jesus didn’t tolerate us, He accepted us. That is the difference love makes. If we believe that kids are made in the image of God, we believe our God is a God of acceptance.
Recalibrate: What are you doing to model acceptance and not just tolerance in your life?
Respond: Thank God for how He accepts you wholeheartedly, with no reservations.
Research: Read “3 Easy Ways to Impact a Middle Schooler’s Identity and Faith” on justaphase.com