I have a very good friend back in Russia named Sergey. He was one of the leaders of the church we were a part of. Sergey is an incredibly driven, funny, adventurous kind of guy with a personality that people are just drawn to. He’s climbed 4 of the 7 Summits (the highest peaks on each of the seven continents). He was a youth pastor for a while, had a bad experience and got into the business world. Over time, he began to realize something about people, sometimes they just need to learn how to play.
He and his wife, Olga, merged with a business training company called NORDIC Training International. Their tagline is “too become like a child.” Their premise is that team building is ok, it has worked for several years, helping people depend on each other, work together, etc. However, their philosophy goes a bit further. In order to fully work together and even overcome obstacle and strategic issues, we need to become like a child by playing board and other games. It’s really ingenious and I’ve had the opportunity to see it in action.
Sergey and Olga have been an incredible couple. They lead their family and interact with people exactly how they lead their company…willing to humble themselves like children to learn from those around them. They are ok with taking time to play. They are ok with asking questions, questioning their beliefs, actions and that of others.
I’ve mentioned before that our family has made the commitment to get out of the city here twice a month. It’s good for our physical bodies, our emotional well being and it’s life giving for our souls. Within an hour’s drive in our SUV, we can be in some of the most remote country in the world. Last week, we drove out to the end of the paved and dirt road. We forded a river in our car and drove a little ways further downstream. We hopped out as the sun was dipping behind the peaks and walked to the river’s edge. Because it’s been on the cool side, part of the river was frozen over. As if their was this uncontrollable, innate, instinctual desire, the kids ran over to the river’s edge, picked up rocks and threw them at the ice trying to get it to crack and break apart.
For an hour or so, we threw small rocks, big rocks, sticks and logs on and through the ice. We walked on it, danced on it and fell through with our shoes getting soaked. Though are feet were cold and we were tired, we had a blast as a family. Driving through the river just added more fun to the mix as we all were kids that day.
On the drive home through the mountains, past the cows, horses and sheep roaming the countryside, I was struck with Jesus making one of those seemingly ridiculous comments, this time about children-“The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” What did He mean? What was His line of thought?
Women and men smarter than I have said that in that comment, Jesus was showing the disciples how we all need to humble ourselves and just bask in our Father’s glory. I think they’re right. I think there is also a playfulness that God has created us with that needs to be let out from time to time. Playing means that we feel safe.
Playing means that we have moments when our troubles and concerns aren’t overwhelming us. Playing means that we have respect enough for others and God’s creation to not be ruled by the clock. Kids are this way. When they play, they have no fears or worries because they feel safe enough to play. When they play, it means that they aren’t worried about anything. When they play, they aren’t concerned about the clock or what time it is. I think God desires that of us as well. We honor Him in playing and honor others.
To become like a child…what a novel idea.
Do you have any experiences dealing with becoming like a child, or playing? How did others respond? Where was God in those moments? I’d love to hear your stories!