In 1 Corinthians 13:11, the apostle Paul points to some important distinctions between children and adults:
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (ESV)
As teachers of children, and as parents, we need to think carefully about these words. Understanding the maturity level of children versus adults is crucial in our teaching philosophy and methods. It should also rightly concern us as we seek to lead them in making a sincere profession of faith. Regarding the above text, Pastor Dennis Gundersen offers these helpful observations:
A child speaks less maturely than most adults; so you cannot assume the he means what you mean by what he says, even if he uses the same words.
A child thinks less maturely than most adults; so you cannot assume that his thoughts are what yours are, even though he uses the same words you might have used to express those thoughts.
A child’s reasoning skills are less mature than those of most adults; his is the reasoning of a child, incomplete and partial to a greater degree than even some of the most immature adults you know. So: can anyone seriously doubt that this simply must be taken into account when we are considering how we will assess a child’s profession of faith?
…[Children] are naïve in their view of the world and of life in general. Their judgment is shallow; their ability to see the ramifications of their decisions is limited. Admitting this is not saying anything insulting about children; it’s merely a fact of life for those in that stage of their humanity.
…All of which means, there is no reason to be ashamed of having reservations when we’re hearing words of commitment from a child. His words may greatly resemble the words of someone who is truly committed, but we must have the insight to know that his thinking may not line up with his words. Children simply often lack the maturity of mind to properly understand the choice they are saying they wish to make.
(Your Child’s Profession of Faith, copyright©2010, pages 31-32)
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