“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,’” (Matthew 19:14).

Our grandson Geoffrey is — and this is the best possible description — “a pistol.” At 2 and a half, he is our youngest, and he shines with a brightness that is both startling and humbling. But it is not just because how God has gifted him as a human being; he shines as a reflection of the love and light and belief and positive energy all around him.

To me, our grandchildren represent all that is good and hope-filled and bursting with possibility on this conflicted and war-torn planet. Children don’t just give me hope, they define the word ‘promise.’ God has saturated them with so much love and purpose and goodness and grace and set them loose in this world to do great things.

When Jesus reminded his followers that “the kingdom belongs to such as these,” he was telling all of us that when we gift the world around us with our positive energy — our light, our enthusiasm, our joy, our encouragement, our ebullience — then we are very much bringing in the kingdom.

In a sense, then, this column is not just about childlike faith but also commentary on leadership.

Sadly (and I’m sad because I am someone who loves church all the way to the bottom of my heart), I read something recently that demonstrated leading others in the exact opposite way from the trajectory of Christ’s teachings. Believe it or not, it was a ‘state of the church’ report from local leadership in a church I know that is struggling.

Unlike the bright witness of children, the message was saturated with unbelief, with negative expectations, with defeatism and with resignation — not to mention poor theology. The good news message, however, literally vibrates with joy and expectation and belief and light and encouragement.

So, listen to Jesus. Be. Like. These. Children.

I think that should probably generate an “amen”! — DEREK.

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Derek Maul
Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at www.derekmaul.wordpress.com.