Teaching Series
Childlike Heart


Last week, I was ecstatic when a stack of eighteen books arrived at my office door, each one beginning with the title, “Parenting your . . .” you fill in the blank: new baby, first grader, seventh grader, twelfth grader . . .

Some of you might be confused as to why a young professional with no children would be so excited to read this material, so let me give you some context to help explain my fascination with parenting books.

These books stem from the research and passion of the It’s Just a Phase Project organized by Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner. This dynamic duo has redefined how we look at the phases of a child’s life. Instead of eagerly waiting for the terrible twos phase to pass or barely hanging onto sanity during the dramatic teen years, Ivy and Joiner have shed light on a different perspective claiming a new definition of what a phase is:

Phase: A timeframe in a kid’s life when you can leverage distinctive opportunities to  influence their future.

Often it seems we get so caught up on the future of our kids’ lives, of our own lives, that we forget to leverage the distinctive opportunities in the present phase. In Matthew 18:1–6 we are given great insight into Jesus’ thoughts on kids. 

This week I want to ponder with you what our families, churches, neighborhoods, and world would look like if we stopped focusing on what we can teach our kids and start focusing on what they can teach us. 

The eighteen years of a kid’s life can be broken down into four significant phases. There are different motivations at each phase.
Ages Zero–Four: Motivated by Safety.
Kindergarten–Fifth Grade: Motivated by Fun.
Sixth–Eighth Grade: Motivated by Acceptance.
Ninth–Twelfth Grade: Motivated by Freedom.

As we enter into adulthood, we often leave our ideas of safety, fun, acceptance, and freedom behind and exchange them for fearlessness, seriousness, tolerance, and a realistic worldview. So what motivates adults?

My hope is that by studying scripture and the phases of kids, we are able to recognize how we are all children of God—no matter our physical age—and allow ourselves to leverage the distinctive opportunities of the phase we are at in our walk with Jesus. 


A New Kind of Leader by Reggie Joiner 
Exegetical Commentary on the NT: Matthew by Grant R. Osborne
Growing Young by Powell, Mulder, and Griffin
Interpretation: Matthew by Douglas R. A. Hare
It’s Just a Phase So Don’t Miss It by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy
Matthew for Everyone Part 2 by N. T. Wright
Paradoxes for Living by N. Graham Standish Parenting Your Twelfth Grader by Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner
Smith & Helwys Bible Commentary: Matthew by Ben Witherington III
The Abundant Life Bible Amplifier: Matthew by George R. Knight
The Churchbook: Matthew 13-28 by Fredrick Dale Bruner

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