Across the Pastor’s Desk: To be a child again is to be wise

Published 8:24 pm Thursday, September 20, 2018

Across the Pastor’s Desk by Ken Jensen

Kenneth Jensen

 

Minneapolis businessman Harvey Mackay writes a weekly column entitled “Outswimming the Sharks.” He recently encouraged his readers to take childhood wisdom into adulthood.

Mackay describes children as not knowing what is and what is not possible.  They are ambitious and enthusiastic. They believe they can do anything and everything.  They do not fear rejection or what people think.  They are not afraid to try new things.  They do not worry and, perhaps more important, are happy.  Children forgive and forget. They do not hold grudges.  They are incredibly perceptive, able to spot a phony without hesitation.  And while it can be embarrassing for mom and dad, they can be bluntly honest.

Somewhere along our journey into adulthood, we became someone other than what we once were.  I am not a psychologist nor was I a perfect parent, but I do know that much of what we become is learned either by observation or from experience.

It has been said that by the age of five, most of us have already “decided” what kind of a persona we will adopt.  Identified as the “decision of the little person,” it may take extensive therapy to change the “decision.”        

Jesus said, “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it” (Mark 10:15).  I don’t think Jesus is talking about who’s “in” and who’s “out” when it comes to eternity.  I believe he is talking about today.  Jesus frequently reminded us that the kingdom is “in our midst.”  It exists in the here and now.

But, before we succumb to a psychiatrist’s couch too quickly, as Christians we believe we have access to a higher power whom we identify as the Holy Spirit.  It is part of a process which the church identifies as “sanctification.”

Drawing upon the resources the Spirit offers, we can recoup the childlike wisdom we once enjoyed.  It doesn’t drop out of the sky as God’s response to a trivial request.  For most of us it is hard work!

The resources through which the Spirit works include reflecting upon the teachings of Scripture (especially the New Testament), time invested in meditation and prayer, engaging in weekly worship, and cultivating Christian relationships. Significant life changes can be made when we rely upon God’s strength and not merely our own. 

Oh yes, in some instances we may need to lie down on a psychiatrist’s couch.  God can also use and work through them as well.

Ken Jensen is a retired ELCA pastor living in Albert Lea.