Children Love A Good StoryApril 2nd, 2014
Just the other day, I was sitting down for dinner with my wife and two children. After prayer, my son, Michael immediately jumped in with, “Daddy, I want you talk about day.” This is his four-year-old expression for asking me how my day went.
It’s just a little ritual that has developed naturally over the last year. We each take turns going around the table describing all the big events of our day and how they affected us. The kiddos mostly talk about toys and tv shows. Mommy and Daddy mostly talk about errands and meetings. We try to speak in a way that will make sense to our children, but that will also challenge them to think more broadly about how their world works.
Anyway, after Daddy and Mommy had each shared at Michael’s request, Michael began to describe his own high points of experience. Suddenly, from the far end of the table came an ear splitting whine of resistance.
“But Daaaddddyyyy!” Lillie croaked. “Michael can’t go next because if Michael goes next than that means I have to go last, and I hate going last!”
“Lillie, it’s okay to go last. It doesn’t mean we will care any less about what you have to say…”
“No Daddy, Please don’t let me go last!” my six-year-old daughter whined again.
I paused for a moment, wishing I could just get out of the situation. Part of me wanted to console her that it really did not matter. Part of me wanted to scold her for insisting to pout about something so mundane! Instead, I took a deep breath, and I asked God how I could turn this around into a teaching moment for my children. Immediately, the answer rushed back to me.
“You knowwwww,” I said grinning slyly at Lillie. “This kind of reminds me of a story I once heard about Jesus.” Both children’s eyes locked onto me and they grinned back. Thank God children love a good story.
“One day Jesus was visiting with his friends and having a big dinner just like the one we are having. Everyone was arguing about who would get to sit at the place of honor” I pointed to my wife’s seat for effect. “But Jesus didn’t worry about things like that,” I continued. He told people that they should sit as far away from the seat of honor as they could, and then maybe the host of the dinner would invite them to come forward to a better seat! This means that with God, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.”
“Go last,” she offered.
“Very good!” I affirmed. “You understood the story, and I am very proud of you. So, can Michael finish telling us about his day?”
“Yes!” she answered, grinning from ear to ear.
Now my little girl may not yet understand the larger theme of the power of humility, but she has captured the general concept that Christ invites her to be okay with being last. It just might be better for her in the long run. Best of all, a little bible story was all it took to turn our family dinner back into an occasion of joy and peace. Children love a good story!