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Virtues in Paradise: A little child shall lead them

Saturday 22 June 2024 | Written by Supplied | Published in Opinion, Virtues in Paradise

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Virtues in Paradise: A little child shall lead them
Linda Kavelin-Popov.

Do you ever look into a child’s eyes and wonder, “Who is this person? What are the gifts they have, waiting to shine? How can I help?, writes Linda Kavelin-Popov.

To get some idea of the value of a child, it’s helpful to know how children are referred to in Scripture. When some children approached Jesus, the apostles growled at them as if they were bothering Jesus. He said, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mathew 19:14)

Jesus held up children as models for all of us to enter heaven. In Genesis, we are told that both men and women were created in the image and likeness of God. One understanding of this is that our souls reflect the virtues of God. His love, compassion, justice, truthfulness and all the virtues, in potential. Just like the coconut is the seed of the palm and will grow into a strong tree with sufficient water, sun, soil and wind, we each have the seeds of goodness in our souls. Whether we develop them or not depends on the choices we make as well as the way we are nurtured as children. Perhaps Jesus was referring to their purity of heart when He counselled us to be like them.

There is so much we can do to shape their character, which is also their destiny. If they learn to be diligent – hard workers – a strong value in the Cook Islands, they will work hard at school or at a job in the future. We need to give them responsibility and show appreciation when they do their part with excellence.

One Dad stopped growling his kids, labelling them for being “lazy” and started encouraging them to be helpful and they improved tremendously. He also praised them for their helpfulness. Punishing or labelling children for not doing things right doesn’t motivate them to do better. It discourages them from trying harder.

A child in Vaitau school Virtues Club was picking up scraps from a craft project, even crawling under a table to make sure he got all the rubbish. I looked at him and said, “You’re being really helpful! And you’re doing an excellent job picking up every single thing.” His whole face lit up and he continues to seek ways to be helpful in class. Acknowledging the virtues you see in your child or student is powerful encouragement for them to be “good”.

In the Virtues scripture class at Araura College, I am continually impressed by the honesty of students who are reflecting on their own strength virtues and growth virtues – the ones they need to grow. One student insightfully wrote “tolerance” among her growth virtues. Then we talked about what that would look like and sound like in her daily practice.

We could all do with this level of self-reflection and accountability. It’s all too easy to fall into a habit of labelling children and criticising them for what they don’t have instead of acknowledging them and correcting them with virtues language. Most of us care deeply about entering the Kingdom of Heaven. If a pure heart is needed, we can purify our actions, by practicing our own virtues. As Isaiah 11:6 says, “A little child shall lead them.”