Study Guide: Listening to the Kids

Sunday October 24, 2010 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Many of us have wounds, stresses, and cares in our lives. Like children, these things cry out to us, wanting us to pay attention. God wants us to listen to these “children” and find healing with God’s help.

Extended Summary:

God wants all of us to listen to our wounds and find healing and restoration. A child clamoring for attention from an adult is a poignant metaphor for these wounds. As the child makes noise, adults notice the child, and we all have inner “children” that are calling out to us, wanting us to pay attention.

However, we’ve been conditioned to neglect these children. We’re conditioned by our culture to put more importance on the outer world than our inner worlds. Whether it is concentrating on what we own, how others perceive us, or what we get recognition for–we pay less and less attention to our inner world and pay more attention to this outer world. We also neglect these children because it takes time to listen–time we may not want to put in our busy schedules. Finally, we may neglect these children because we don’t want to hear what they have to say or show us.

God wants us to pay attention to these children. In order to acquire an undivided Kingdom heart and holistic Kingdom life, we must make time and be willing to listen to these children. This is not a God-only action, as if God is meant to start, continue, and complete the work without our involvement. Yet many of us treat our wounds in this manner. It is true that without the Holy Spirit we will not be transformed in a Kingdom way, but it is equally true that we have an important and necessary role to play–a role empowered by the Holy Spirit.

We cannot acquire an undivided Kingdom heart and holistic Kingdom life without paying attention to these children. Their voices clutter our soul and creates perpetual uneasiness. We are constantly pulled in different directions, remaining a fragmented individual as long as we don’t lay to rest these children in our hearts.

Above all else, guard your heart. This is not simply protecting, but tending to, caring for, cultivating and nurturing your heart. The reason God commands this is because the heart is the wellspring of life. Everything flows from your heart, and your outward unity is dictated by your inward unity. We have important obligations to love others, including our spouses, friends, and families. Yet, as important as these are, our first and foremost responsibility is to guard our heart. This responsibility is to bring the Good News of God’s love to the children in our hearts, the ones clamoring for our attention. We must tuck them into their downy beds and allow them to dream children’s dreams as they sleep in heaven’s arms.

This is not an easy task. We must regularly clear our schedules and take time to listen to these children. Sometimes, the children will barge into our lives when we least expect it. We may be acting in ways that we think are our own choices, but its really the unresolved children pulling us in different directions, away from the path God set out for us. As children of God, our true nature is holy and blameless before God, but sometimes these children compromise how we show that to the world.

It is of the utmost importance that we nurture our heart and tend to our inner world. We must clear our schedules to listen to our inner children. They all speak in different ways, some have been forgotten for many years while others scream at us every chance they get. Every single thing that takes place in our inner world does so for a reason and is a child that we can learn from. You must be patient, as this process cannot be rushed. It will take daily quiet time, spent listening to the children of your heart. It will also bring daily healing and restoration, the final goal being an undivided Kingdom heart and a holistic Kingdom life.

God bless you, and God bless the little children.

(The poem at the beginning of the sermon was written and read by Terri Churchill. The music playing during the poem was “Valley of the Shadow” by Thomas Newman.)

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. As you listen to the poem, what children are nudging you and seeking your attention–writing “I am Here“ on the wall?
  3. Why is it important to listen to these children and heal these memories of your heart?
  4. How do these children affect your outer world, in what ways does their clamoring distract you from living an undivided Kingdom life?
  5. In what ways can you see your life become more holistic if you were to listen to these children and tuck them into their downy beds, dreaming children’s dreams as they sleep in heaven’s arms?