This example from Phillip R. Johnson made me laugh, and it brought to mind similar experiences that I have had as a parent and teacher of young children. It also is a good reminder of the importance of repeating, reviewing, and being patient as we teach.
Children rarely get the whole message right the first time. That’s why the best Sunday-school curriculum has a lot of built in repetition and review.
My eldest son, Jeremiah, was only three when his Sunday-school class began to have formal lessons. I loved having him retell the stories for me, and I was amazed at how accurate he was with most of the details. I was even more amazed that his little mind could absorb so much.
But he didn’t always get the minutiae quite right.
One Sunday he was recounting Jesus’ baptism for me. He rehearsed the narrative rapid-fire, without pausing to breathe: “Jesus came to this man—John—who baptized people, and He said, “Baptize Me.” And John said he couldn’t do it because he wasn’t good enough, but Jesus said do it anyway.”
“That’s right,” I said, congratulating myself that my son was such a good listener.
“So John baptized Jesus,” Jeremiah continued. He lowered his voice to a dramatic whisper. “And then a very strange thing happened.”
“What was it?” I whispered back.
“This big duck came down,” he said.
I looked at the picture he had colored. Sure enough, John was baptizing Jesus while a bird descended from the sky. Jeremiah, who thought the teacher had said “duck” instead of “dove,” had decorated his bird with Mallard rings and an oversized beak.
Well, at least he had understood the core of the story. I was glad he had learned as much as he did.
(Excerpt from “Teaching Your Children Spiritual Truth,” copyright © 1996 by Phillip R. Johnson. All rights reserved.)