by Tanya Yuen
Children and Family Ministries Associate, CBOQ
“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep by name and they know me. I am the Good Shepherd and I lay down my life for the sheep….” I remember the first time I was sharing the Good Shepherd story with children. I was teaching Sunday school using a paraphrased version of John 10 with a visual of a sheep pen, shepherd figure and sheep figures and I had a group of preschoolers completely captivated. As I moved the shepherd around the sheep pen, I called the sheep figures by ‘name’, using the names of the kids in the class. I observed the power of the Scripture come alive in these kids as they realized that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and that he knows their name and loves them so much that he gives his life for them.
As I continue to learn more about children’s spirituality, I have discovered that the image of the Good Shepherd is one that seems to resonate more than other images with young children. I wonder why?
I wonder if it’s because children have an incredible ability to marvel at the glory of God and the concept of a shepherd and his love for his sheep seems to be enchanting. I wonder if this story and this image of God resonates so much with children because their spirits are stirred within by the deep love, protection and guidance of the Good Shepherd. I wonder if it’s because they discover that they are valuable, known, chosen. I wonder if it’s because they become aware of Someone who is calling them by name, lovingly guiding them as they learn to follow His voice.
As we are teaching kids in Sunday School or interacting with them in our communities of faith, I wonder how we share the Good Shepherd with them? Do we know all the littlest sheep among us by name? Are we seeking ways to lovingly guide them to hear and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd? Are we praying Holy Spirit protection for them against thieves and robbers? May the Good Shepherd lead you as you lead those entrusted to you.