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Modeling the Good Shepherd While Teaching Kids About Jesus

Jul 8, 2024 | Teach Kids Articles

What does it look like to be a “good shepherd” as Christian role models for children? I’ve often wondered this while teaching kids about Jesus, and the answer came to me in a surprising way. One morning, Coach Jose and I were escorting five little kindergartners to the gym. They were warned not to go in front of Jose or behind me as we walked. A few times they tested the limits, straying just a little ahead of their coach. When they did, Jose would immediately stop in his tracks and wait there until they’d giggle and fall back in line. This happened over and over again. Once we were in the gym, I helped Jose set up an obstacle course and he explained the rules. The kids obeyed and went around the course several times, giggling and chattering amongst themselves. They were having a blast!

Christian Role Models Model the Good Shepherd

At one point, I wondered, “Why do I feel so calm? I usually feel a little stressed out when I’m teaching kids about Jesus.” So, I thought about what Coach Jose was doing. First, he knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish in his gym class and he was confident about his plan. I didn’t have to do any planning, myself, all I had to do was faithfully obey what he asked me to do. Second, he practiced firm love with the children he was teaching. He kept solid, reasonable boundaries for the kids so they would stay within the limits of the obstacle course and on track with his plan. At the same time, he wasn’t overly strict. He clearly had a deep affection for the children in his class—he knew each one of them and their limits, enjoyed being with them, kept a diligent eye on them, and gave them the exercising fun that they needed and wanted.

I realized that the reason why I and the children felt so calm in the gym that day was because Coach Jose was perfectly modeling our Good Shepherd, God, while tending to his flock of kids. Much like what Coach Jose was emulating, God has the perfect plan for our lives and all we have to do is follow it and faithfully obey. He practices firm love with us, giving us His Word to establish boundaries for life that keep us from spiritual harm. The Good Shepherd also knows us and our limits. He loves and enjoys us, always watching over us and caring for each of our needs at just the right time.

Over and over again, God shows Himself as the Good Shepherd in our lives. And when it comes to teaching kids about Jesus, He then gives us the opportunity to reflect His example as Christian role models by being good shepherds ourselves—an opportunity Coach Jose seized. Here’s how we can mimic the Good Shepherd for the kids in our flock.

How to Be a Good Shepherd When Teaching Kids About Jesus

1. Draw Near to the Good Shepherd Yourself

First, to be good Christian role models while teaching kids about Jesus, we need to get as close to the Good Shepherd, ourselves, as possible. We need to understand just Who we’re striving to emulate. When we meditate on God’s Word, talk with Him, and listen for His still, small voice, we become aware of what He’s asking us to do and develop the faith to follow through. He already has the perfect plan for our lives and to reach the children around us, all we have to do is be ready to do what He asks. Over time, the closer we draw to our Good Shepherd, the more our heart will begin to look like His. Only then, when we have our heart in place, can we cultivate firm love for the kids God places in our path to be good shepherds and Christian role models to.

2. Learn to Delight in Your Sheep

Next, to be a good shepherd when teaching kids about Jesus, you need to learn to delight in your sheep. Think about the kids in your life. When was the last time you simply had fun with them—no agenda, nothing to accomplish; just spending time together? Those times are precious; they allow you to get to know those kids and their needs intimately. During those times, God blesses you with a bit of His perspective in how He delights in His sheep—us! As Christian role models called to be good shepherds like Him, we should delight in the children in our care in the same way while teaching kids about Jesus. Take time to learn, get to know, and enjoy the kids in your life as the precious sheep they are to our Good Shepherd.

3. Take Time to Prepare for Teaching Kids About Jesus

When good shepherds know and love their sheep, they know how to prepare for their shepherding while teaching kids about Jesus. As our Good Shepherd is a God of order, we can reflect Him by taking time to carefully plan our lessons for the children under our care. Ask yourself: what are some ways you can improve in your preparation? Maybe you need to budget your time better so you can study a Bible passage more in-depth or think through all the steps and materials needed. Even though it makes me feel a little awkward, personally, I know my teaching is much better if I practice the lesson aloud a couple times. As good shepherds, our love for the children in our flock is reflected by how much time and effort we put into preparation for teaching kids about Jesus.

4. Show Love Through Firm Boundaries

Part of that preparation includes thinking through the boundaries we need to set up for them. How can we help kids stay on-track with their lessons and spiritual growth so we can meet their spiritual, emotional, and physical needs? What behaviors would be considered “off-track”? If you witness those behaviors, what warnings or penalties are appropriate and why? These are all very important questions to wrestle with and get advice on, as there are times when kids sin, and there are also times when kids are just being kids. Our Good Shepherd often uses the rod of His Word to confront and guide us back to His plan for our lives. Ultimately, boundaries give us stability and direction, and you can show love to the children in your flock as Christian role models when you give solid boundaries while teaching kids about Jesus.

I’m so thankful for Coach Jose’s example to help me better understand the Good Shepherd and how we can be good Christian role models while teaching kids about Jesus. What if we, too, reflected the Good Shepherd so well to the kids in our life that, one day, they couldn’t help but think of us as they learned about the Good Shepherd?

This content is from the CEF podcast Teach Kids.  Listen to more content like this on the Teach Kids podcast through your favorite podcast platform.  #TeachKids #KidsMin

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