Michael Quoist in one of his prayer books wrote:
I donâ€™t like old people unless they are still
I want only
children in my kingdom …
Youngsters â€“ twisted,
white-bearded â€“ all kinds of youngsters,
but youngsters …
I like children
because my likeness has not yet
been dulled in
They have not botched
my likeness …
I like them because they
are still growing, they are still
They are on the road,
they are on their way.
But with grown-ups
there is nothing to expect any more.
They will no longer
grow, no longer improve.
They have come to a
It is disastrous â€“
grown-ups think they have arrived.
Meanwhile, it was Jesus who said, "Unless you become like a child …" Far too many ministers — maybe far too many Christians in general — act as if they have arrived. Far too many of us act as if we are a part of the few who "know."
Sometimes we are like the followers of Jesus in Mark 1:35-39. It is early in the morning, still dark, and Jesus goes off by himself to pray. Not long afterward, his disciples, with flashlights in hand, come looking for him. They finally find him and inform Jesus, "Everyone is looking for you!"
They are certain that this thing Jesus is doing is working. After all, "the whole town gathered at the door" (1:33) (the door of Simon and Andrew’s house). Jesus is healing the sick and casting out demons. His followers think they "know." After all, this looks like success. They must have been so surprised when they found Jesus that morning and he tells them (Mark 1:38):
Let us go somewhere else — to the nearby villages — so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.
Sometimes, we go through the day as if we know. Yet, it was Jesus himself who spent some early morning hours in prayer. He knew he needed the Father.
- If more ministers followed the example of Jesus, our churches would see fewer self-absorbed ministers.
- If more moms and dads followed Jesus’ example, they would have a different set of priorities for rearing their children.
- If more Christians in general followed Jesus’ example, we would be less concerned with what people want from us and more concerned with the God we desperately need.
Maybe I have academic degrees.
Maybe I have many years of experience working with people in churches.
Maybe I have read many books.
Maybe I have learned and gained knowledge.
I desperately need to be a child. To not think I have arrived. Instead, I need to pray. And what if I am not one who prays?
- If I don’t pray, I may begin to think I have arrived.
- If I don’t pray, I may begin to get off mission.
- If I don’t pray, I may be more concerned with pleasing people (and live with a constant self-consciousness) instead of spending time with God.
- If I don’t pray, I may begin to see myself as a grown-up who has arrived instead of a child who is still open to the work of God.