Can you recall your Kindergarten or First Grade teachers? I can. After a week of Lab School at Eastern Illinois University where I had attended preschool, my parents decided to move me to the public elementary school, Mark Twain. Mrs. Triplett was awaiting my arrival and had two girls, Lisa Grant and Gina Eads, with her at the door. What an impression they made on me, welcoming me, ensuring I had a great start to Kindergarten. I can still visualize the picture of them standing there and then recall they brought me over to the sandbox in the room as my parents left.
My other vivid memory was Mrs. James, my first grade teacher. She had a checker system for being good – 3 checkers and you received an M&M. She had all kinds of interesting plants and animals in her room. We had an extensive unit on Ecology and went on a ton of field trips. I still pay attention to Walking Sticks, Praying Mantis and Monarchs based on her science units. She invited the entire class over to her house to bake Christmas cookies. I can still picture Mrs. James. What an impression she had on me!
As I thought about other teachers, I recall one of my favorites, Mr. Gochenour, fifth grade. If you could recite all the states and capitols, he gave you a “huge” Marathon candy bar. He also taught the entire class how to Disco Dance – Ha! As my school years progressed, I don’t recall many of my junior high teachers and just have a few favorites from high school. I had to have a conversation with my mom about my teachers to try to help my memory! What that told me was how influential teachers were in my early years.
I think that is true today for our children. I know my kids school habits, friends, thoughts about school and confidence were formed by their teachers at Northpoint. I thank Mrs. Kraft and Mrs. Kerber for their influences on my boys.
The other visual this chapter gave me was our Children’s Sermon. I smile each week as the children go forward for a message from the Pastor. How influential that person is and can be with these little people. I can recall my father practicing his children’s sermons on me at a very young age. He wanted to make an impression and leave the children with a brief yet important thought of the day.
As we look at Matthew 19 today and as with many of the chapters in Matthew, there is so much content. Many chapters contain multiple messages, words of inspiration, parables, guidelines and reprimands. Matthew 19 is no different. “Let the little children come to me”. We all know this verse well. The disciples were trying to keep the children from bothering Jesus. However, he “rebuked” them. He understood the important influence he could make on their lives as such as early age. How impressionable the children were and he wanted to take the time to impart his words on them as well as provide healing to those in need.
As we go about our daily lives, let us be thankful for people who make an impression on our children, from teachers to pastors. May we also take time to make our own impressions on young children, those we know and even those we do not know. Even a smile or a compliment makes a difference.
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” You can finish the song out loud or in your head.
Extra reading: Psalm 92