If you have spent much time working with children, with the purpose of leading them to Jesus, our precious Saviour, you no doubt have encountered a young skeptic or two. This child is the one who comes to Vacation Bible School or church because “my parents said I have to.”
Perhaps moments after the class has begun, he has decided that he is allowed to leave or browse through the classroom cabinets. If he does stay put, he is occasionally presenting some question simply to raise debate: a disapproving “That’s not true! I saw a cartoon where…” or a defiant “How do you know God loves me?”
The latter is sometimes followed by some clue of the underlying difficulty—praise the Lord if it is; that will give you a better understanding of this precious soul. Often however, the teacher is left clueless, confused, exasperated. I believe that these cases are problems of trust.
What do we do with these children? In two simple words: love them! Although it is a child’s natural tendency to trust (Jesus even pointed to the children as worthy examples of humble faith), there are children out there—more than we know, I am sure—whose trust has been broken so often or so completely that they are questioning the wisdom of ever trusting again.
We must not feel that trust is our due. Rather, trust is a gift we want to give the child; for trust brings a sense of security.
I feel it would do well to briefly mention here the possibility that your own trust has been broken in one way or another. If so, ask the Lord if you are harboring any resentment over the matter.
We are warned to be “looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” We cannot give a peace we do not have; we cannot teach a trust we do not know.
So, first “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil-speaking be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye…tenderhearted, forgiving…even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” I have found it helpful in my own life to acknowledge God’s ownership of the situation and of all things—including what I might account as “mine”. We must not allow another’s sin to fuel sin in our own heart. A whole book could be written on this subject alone, so I will leave it at that.
With a pure heart before God, we may confidently ask of Him wisdom and courage to face the unbelieving child. We may ask Him to help us be firm and consistent, yet ever gentle and kind. Trust cannot be forced, but we must insist that as long as the child is in our class, he participate and not disrupt. Often a few loving rules, consistently enforced, are all it takes to gain a child’s confidence.
Unfortunately, there will be exceptions—but do not give up! We are talking the power of the All-Powerful here! “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Claim God’s promises for the child.
In all of your dealings with the child, always, always, always follow the “Golden Rule”. “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” That is straight from the mouth of Jesus. It is often the “unlovable” child that needs the most love. He is the one who has not received as much love in the past, and so has little to give. Fill him up!
Vacation Bible School is an excellent opportunity to build a trusting relationship with the children. In VBS, you sing together, pray together, work together, talk together—be sure to play together, too. Join in the children’s games. It is not just time to “burn off some of that extra energy” that children have. It is a time to bind them to your heart as a friend, not just a teacher. Even Jesus made it a point to tell us “I have called you friends.”
Watch for the valuable opportunities in downtime. Make pleasant conversation with the children. Show them by your attentive ear that you care. Pray with them as the Lord impresses you. Always be praying for them. Avail yourself of opportunities to express your own faith in God and to point out the evidences of His loving care.
As you put effort into each day, be willing to be patient. This is a big part of the reason I so strongly advocate two-week Vacation Bible School programs over one-week programs. It takes time to build a relationship. Children need time to decide that you can really be trusted. Then they can feel safe trusting your God—that is, after all, the ultimate goal here. This need for time is doubly true (if not more so) for a child that is struggling with trust.
Don’t give up! Childhood is a pliable time. God is worthy to be trusted—you have seen His goodness firsthand. This precious child is the purchase of Christ’s blood. He is of inestimable worth to his loving Creator. You have nothing to lose in giving, in the strength of Jesus Christ, your all.
- How do you recover lost trust? pt 1
- How do you recover lost trust? pt 2
- How do you recover lost trust? pt 3
***Would you like to check out our two-week Vacation Bible School program materials, where the children can meet the loving God who is worthy of our trust? Click here to visit our store…or send us a note using our convenient contact page. I will be happy to answer your questions!***