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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Kid's Table

I had to laugh this morning as I plunged a finger into the bowl of eggs that I had just cracked in order to retrieve a piece of shell that had inadvertently fallen into the bowl.  (Don’t worry… My hands were clean and I was the only one who was going to eat them!)  I chuckled because I remembered the first pancake breakfast that my wife and I had orchestrated for our church family in order to raise money for our first youth group’s upcoming Snow Camp.  I had just come into the large kitchen in the fellowship hall where Piper and her crew were cooking the breakfast items and happened to glance at the large yellow bowl that the kids were busily cracking eggs into. 
This was toward the end of the after church event and the bowl had been replenished many times.  When I looked into the container, the bottom was lined with a mountain of egg shell bits and pieces!  My young wife and I had quite a good time with that one!  I have to confess to the loyalty and support of our Baptist church members as neither of us received any negative reports concerning the eggs they had eaten!  I guess they took into account the age of the youth who were diligently working to cook and serve them a hot breakfast!
Earlier in the morning I had continued with my study in I Corinthians 13:11 where the Apostle Paul was conveying a message to his listeners saying: “When I was a child I talked like a child, and I reasoned as a child, and I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I laid aside the things of childhood.” (James Murdock New Testament)  My remembrances with the scrambled eggs and our youth group got me to thinking about how certain actions, behaviors and words are acceptable for kids or youth, but not for adults.
In explaining some of the author’s thoughts behind his teaching about childish ways, Albert Barnes says that as children we have “narrow and imperfect views of things” that we “know little, and are affected as a child (in that we are) thrown into a transport of joy or grief on the slightest occasions.”   His explanation was a vivid description of what my wife and I saw in the negative reactions of those who had made some explosive comments to us and our kids concerning how I was caring for my wife during the initial stages of the battle for her health.
Barnes also wrote that children are “just beginning to articulate in a broken and most imperfect manner.”  The idea of “imperfect manner” caused me to relive the many insensitive remarks that were made.  Once again, many of these comments would be palatable if they came from children or young Christians, but they were quite disturbing as they were uttered by mature Christian adults!
While meditating on these thoughts I suddenly had the picture of the “Kids Table” that many of us have set up during our Holiday dinner gatherings.  Have you ever had to sit at one of those?  It is great when you’re a young elementary age child, but can be a little disconcerting as a Middle or High School youth!  I read a humorous article that was entitled: “The Kid’s Table: A Treat? Or a Trick?* that listed some good things to consider about sitting at the “Kid’s Table” during family gatherings.
Some of items listed included:

  • The Kid’s are more fun than adults.
  • It’s socially acceptable at the kid’s table to do things that are frowned upon at the adult’s table…  (these actions, sounds, jokes and stories are not only acceptable, but expected at this table.)
  • There is always a toddler that you can blame things on.
  • At the kid’s table you get honest answers… (Is the stuffing dry? You will hear about it.  They will just plain old say “This is disgusting…”  If someone burps - or worse- they will admit it proudly and belly laugh about it for the next five minutes…)
  • You can be as loud as you want there.
  • No one cares if you clean your plate.

These responses to life are expected and usually funny when they come from kids.  Most individuals would not think them to be humorous though, when they come from mature adults!
Most parents know that there are certain subjects that are best not discussed in the presence of children as the young ones most likely won’t understand the subject matter or could be adversely affected by it.  I have found out the hard way that this is also a consequence of conversing with adults who at times respond to the difficult situations in life in a childlike manner. 
There are certain sensitive matters and/or personal emotions that I feel that I cannot share with the family members who have responded to us in ways that seemed childish or were of an insensitive manner.  This has created a definite barrier in our relationship that will take a long time to overcome.  It would seem that the more loving thing to do at this point is to not mention certain subjects that might reopen certain fears and negative reactions.  (Let’s be honest… I don’t want to keep reliving those awful experiences either!) What would you do?
Galatians 4:6-9 tells that as sons and daughters of God that we are no longer servants to the childish ways and responses of the world and should act instead as a grown up “heir of God through Christ.” (MKJV)  As a life-long Children’s and Youth Minister I am trained and experienced in the successful interaction with our younger family members.  But things get a bit more complicated and confusing when these same behaviors are evident in adults.  I guess what I am trying to say is that there comes a time for all of us to put on our “Big Boy” pants and act as we are called and equipped to act as an heir of the kingdom of God so that we can be a vivid and active part of Papa God’s solutions in life instead of being part of the problems!
Have a great day!  Stay excitedly in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s expectations am I living up to today?”

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