dirty window vision hopeAdults often believe either that we need never bring up spiritual matters at all or that we must instill our own beliefs about God into children.

The first option may be found among adults who assume that spiritual matters are of little importance to children. The upshot can be to discourage open-minded exploration and discovery where almost all children are curious. Or simply to eliminate yourself as an interested party when children reach out to talk with someone about life and death and meaning.

The second option is common among more religious adults. The assumption is that children are blank slates, having no natural engagement with God on their own, and therefore need to be taught. Sometimes the results can be damaging: children feeling forced into rigid belief systems at a time when they more naturally lean toward possibilities and questions. That can lead children to run from the very mention of God.

What about a third way? What if we listen to and nurture what God has already placed inside of them? What if we serve more as guides or even fellow journeyers than we do as teachers? What if we work on the assumption that spirituality already exists inside the heart of every child and that God is already active there? Maybe that’s a cleaner window into their spirit. And our role is not to tell them what to see out the window or to close the curtains on the window, but to facilitate and encourage them so they can see clearly for themselves.