In April I went on a biking trip with two friends to see the Dutch countryside abloom in the bulb flowers for which my ancestral home is famous. None of us spoke Dutch. None of us had ever led a biking excursion before let alone in a foreign country. While we were all sufficiently intelligent and reliable grandmothers we felt a little inadequate on this adventure. We rented a GPS device and consulted maps but most important, once on the road, looked for the important road signs that would take us to our destination.
We quickly learned how much help it was to have multiple sets of eyes ready to take responsibility and speak up. Not one of us was ever right the entire time. Going ‘at the speed of bike,’ it was easy to be looking in one direction and miss a sign in the direction where you weren’t looking. At one time or another, two would hear the voice of the third calling “Did you see that sign? These roles changed frequently. We were always happy to receive immediate course correction so we could continue with minimal delay.
I’ve thought of this recently as I’ve considered our stewardship to teach and lead children.
As prepared as we might be or as sure of the stories or doctrines we are, inevitable slip-ups occur when we are on the spot. Maybe we get flustered and say something when we mean something else. Maybe we get distracted by something or feel we need to finish our sharing time and inadvertently miss an opportunity to clarify or engage in important discussions. I recall a sharing time where modesty was being discussed and the primary counselor explained that some clothing that was too tight could be immodest. One child, thinking she understood perfectly well, nodded her head as she pulled at the heel of her shoe and said “Yeah, like when your shoes are too tight.” While suppressed chuckles danced around the room a sincere inquiry by another child “What if someone likes to wear tight cloths?” went unaddressed.
Even after much preparation you may experience slips-ups at the moment you are before the children teaching. We invite you to join us in implementing a “culture of catch” amongst ourselves in which we receive and give kind but clarifying correction happily and immediately.
Let’s not avoid a correction or clarification for fear we may offend. Let’s not assume an incorrect statement will go unnoticed or be ‘over’ the children’s heads. Primary should be a place free from misconceptions. Primary should be the port of embarkation in a child’s journey introducing them to vistas of testimony, truth and light in an environment abloom with love and humility.
We invite you to be both teacher and student in a culture where we happily catch each other as we lead on the path back to Heavenly Father.