I just sent this letter to the parents of our Followers students regarding what happened with the story we interacted with this past Monday. Followers is an after-school program that Hayward Wesleyan Church does every other Monday after school with grades K-5. You can read more about Followers here.
Dear parents of Followers students,
This whole school year, the students, leaders and I have been interacting with the stories in the book of 1 Samuel in the Bible. It started out as an experiment to see if ancient stories connected with young children even if I didn’t mention that they were from the Bible. I told them that these stories were old stories (about 3,500 years old) and take place in the Middle East. I’ve also been using stick figures and graphics to sort of visually progress through the story each week. The students have responded really well to these stories. About 4 or 5 stories in I had to reference other parts of the Bible to help make sense of one of the stories, so then it became more explicit where I got these stories. But most of the kids knew that they were Bible stories.
What happened this past Monday?
This past Monday we did the story of Samuel and Saul in 1 Samuel chapter 15. It’s only 35 verses total and is really worth a read. When you read it think about conversations and arguments you have with your children (or even with other adults, in fact!). Pay close attention to Samuel’s reaction to what Saul did as well as the LORD’s words to Saul. Pay even closer attention to the way Saul responds. You’ll see your children (sometimes) in the way Saul responds! Out of one side of his mouth Saul says that he obeyed what the LORD said, and the other side of his mouth he says that he didn’t! It’s crazy!!
When we did this story with the Followers students (all grades K-5), they were weirded out by Saul’s response. They were like:
“Saul totally did wrong, but he won’t admit it!”
They all said,
“Perhaps,” I said. But I shared with them that I didn’t think Saul was lying… Saul thought he was telling the truth. But there is obviously something wrong with Saul’s reality.
The whole book of 1 Samuel is written to compare and contrast King Saul and the next emerging king, young David. I pulled out a lego block and a piece of playdough. I pointed to the lego block and said that Saul’s heart is hard. It is not soft. Saul is not allowing God or anyone else (Samuel) to mold and shape his heart. It is hard. The next king, David, is going to have a soft heart. Then I pointed to the playdough. This man’s heart is soft. When he does something wrong (and David surely makes his share of sins), he does two things:
- He owns his problem; he admits to doing something wrong (he doesn’t blame someone else or deflect)
- He says that he is sorry
What God is looking for in human beings are those with soft hearts. When you do something wrong, get caught and get in trouble, how do you respond? Do you blame someone else? Do you deflect or minimize what you did? Or do you admit that you did something wrong and say you’re sorry?
I asked the students,
“If you continually respond with a hard heart to correction, can God work with you? Can God mold you?”
I was holding the lego block when I asked this all the while trying to bend it and break it. They said,
I then asked the students,
“Can God work with someone who has a soft heart and admits when they are wrong and says they are sorry?”
I was holding the playdough when I asked this question.
“So be careful how you respond when you make mistakes or sin, because how you respond either makes your heart softer, or your heart harder.”
The more you respond well when either bad or good things happen will determine how moldable your heart is in life. It starts when you are a child. How soft is your heart?
Why I’m emailing you?
Parents, I wanted to email you what we did this week because I think it can really help you at home with your children. As parents we are on the front lines with our children, aren’t we? Every single day and multiple times a day we are confronting our children with things they both did right and things they did wrong. What sets our children on a healthy and productive trajectory in life is how they respond to correction. Do they respond with a hard heart? Or do they respond with a soft heart?
The question even gets directed at us as adults as well, doesn’t it? When we respond to circumstances in life, do we respond with hard hearts and blame and deflect on others or make excuses? Or do we own our mistakes and sin and say that we are sorry? To our spouses, co-workers, friends, enemies, children, other families? Our children are like hawks and they watch how we respond to other people. We are teaching our children how to live life by the way we live life (and we aren’t saying a word to them).
So, ask your kids about what they learned in Followers this past Monday. Ask them what they remember. Then make it common language in your home.
“Do you have a hard heart right now?”
“I’m so proud that you’re heart is soft! Way to go!!”
Photo credit: FreeImages.com/hdido dgs