Image-Reflector: Be Intentional

Through-Lines Image-Reflector

Today’s post comes from Ron VandenBurg, Sr. Producer of Children’s Ministry at ReFrame Media.
For more information and resources, please also visit The Prairie Centre for Christian Education.

In the fourth in a series of articles from Through-Lines: Defining What a Christian Is – Christians bear the image of God in their daily lives and see that all humans are image reflectors.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

—Genesis 1:27 (NIV)

An educator that I respect once told me that when I am in the presence of another person, I am on holy ground. There’s an image-reflector right in front of me, so what am I going to do and how am I going to treat that other person? If my belief is real for me, then I ought to show respect, trust, care, and hope intentionally to children (See Matt 25:31-43). I need to shape my time with them around how those kids are feeling that day. For example, when a child tells me a story, I need to tune in and really listen.

Okay, so let’s talk about those kids. We have to model for children what it means to respect and care for image-reflectors. It gets hard when you have to show care to the disruptive child. When there’s frustration over an incident, I need to go back and start again. When a child wants a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance, I need to recognize that perseverance and support that child. Why? Because she’s an image-reflector. That child deserves the same respect as a person that I do, that anyone does. We need to listen to each other’s stories and work for positive restoration instead of exclusion. When children see us doing that, they will learn to do the same.

So much of Christian living can be in the moment. You can plan and predict how your lesson or session is going to go, but then all the other people–the children–have to come into the room, and that’s when things become unpredictable. When you think about other people, what makes you value them? For me, it has been the belief that each person is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). I’m an image-reflector, and so is everyone else around me.

Some ways to teach care, respect, trust and optimism:

  • Create affirming artwork. Have children surprise their coach, their pastor, their teacher, their parent, or their sibling with a piece of artwork that tells them about something special that everyone can see in them. The artwork could be a bookmark or a great picture that they can hang on their refrigerator.
  • Have your small children draw special pictures along with a note like “thanks for being so nice” or “thank you for your good work.” Explain to parents that these gifts can be shared with a polite cashier, a kind librarian, or wonderful friend when parents and children are out together. The opportunities for sharing can be spontaneous.  It shows children that everyone should be valued and that kindness is everywhere.
  • “Pay it forward”. If someone does something nice to you, find another person and show some kindness to them. Be intentional with your blessing.

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