By Michael Holmes
BUSINESS guru Seth Godin discussed the difference of being childish and childlike:
“Childlike makes a great scientist.
Childish produces tantrums.
Childlike brings fresh eyes to marketing opportunities.
Childish rarely shows up as promised…”
Jesus so understood the power of being childlike that He stressed it repeatedly: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, asking, ‘Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?’ So Jesus called a child to come and stand in front of them, and said, ‘I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child.’” (Matthew 18:1-4 GNT)
“But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ they were indignant and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes. Have you never read, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?’” (Matthew 21:15-16 NKJV)
“They came to Capernaum. When He was safe at home, He asked them, ‘What were you discussing on the road?’ The silence was deafening – they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest. He sat down and summoned the Twelve. ‘So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.’ He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, He said, ‘Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces Me, and far more than Me – God who sent Me.’” (Mark 9:33-37 MSG)
“An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had Him stand beside him. Then He said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in My Name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the One Who sent Me. For whoever is least among you all is the greatest.’” (Luke 9:46-48 NIV)
“Then Jesus prayed this prayer: ‘O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding the truth from those who think themselves so wise and clever, and for revealing it to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased You to do it this way!’” (Matthew 11:25-26 NLT)
The greatest example is when some children were brought Jesus so He could pray for them and bless them. The disciples (the realists, the managers) told them not to bother Him. Jesus surveyed the situation and responded. He didn’t turn to the kids and say any of the following things:
“Sorry kids! Me blessing you is against the rules. We don’t do it that way over here.”
“It’s not in company protocol.”
“That’s right kids listen to My guys. You have to learn to be more realistic like them.”
“Come on kids…grow up!”
He said none of that. Instead he turned to His discliples…His managers…His ‘realists’ and said: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” (Matthew 19:14 MSG)
Truth be told it’s the ‘childlike’ that end up changing the world!
The benefits of being childlike
“As grown ups, we’ve lost this childlike sense of life. And that’s actually a sad thing. It’s not just about happiness and innocence either — being more childlike also helps us to be more creative, more imaginative, more innovative and open to worlds of possibilities. Consider: as children, we are naturally imaginative, curious, able to play without a worry in our minds.” Zen Habits
So what can we learn from children? Here’s what:
1. To be imaginative
We’ve lost this quality in the ‘real world.’ Children let their imaginations run free and wild. They make up stories, they role play, they change the world, the create zany new products (and sell you on them), and they think in the box, outside the box, and without the box.
2. To create without abandon
Have you watched a child create something? They don’t check polls before they do it; they don’t run surveys; they don’t ask permission…they just do it. They have an idea and start creating.
3. To be persistent
Ooops! The idea didn’t work.
Do children say, “I knew it! I should have listened to the news more. What was I thinking? Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”
Nope. They just try it again. And again and again and again. Until it works.
4. To ask questions
Try asking these questions:
“What can’t we?”
“Why can’t it be better”
“Why won’t it work?”
“What if we tried it this way?”
‘How about this…?”
And so on.
5. To have faith
In the real world, we gave up faith for reason, logic, rationale, and public opinion. No wonder Jesus spoke so highly of children; because the things that change lives and the world often defy reason, logic, rationale, and public opinion.
They’re not built on logic…they’re built on faith.
Is there anything I missed? What other childlike attributes should we have?
Read his earlier column: What King Hezekiah teaches us in spiritual leadership