Have you ever tried to wrangle a room full of two- or three- or four- or five-year-olds? It’s like herding cats. Very.Noisy.Cats.
Let’s say you have a group of ten kids you want to sit down for a story. Good luck, right?
If you get four to sit down, the other six are still wandering or running about. If you get eight, you lose at least half of them while you chase down the other two. No matter how you beg & plead, it just seems like a virtually impossible task.
But here’s my secret: all you need is ONE kid.
If just one child comes (or even just STARTS to come) and sits down when you call everyone over for story time, you’ve good as got ’em all.
In a loud but friendly voice (so most everyone, not just that child, can hear), say with a smiling Disney-Princess-in-love tone, “Oh! I see you BillyBob! I see you sitting down just as Mrs. Gina asked! Well done! Good job!” (then to everyone) “Look how BillyBob is sitting down just as Mrs. Gina asked! Good job, BillyBob” If you still don’t have at least one other child jump in on that action, repeat it again… after all, in the ruckus inherent in little kid-dom, it might be hard to hear you. But keep praising BillyBob’s sitting down. And Someone. Will. Come.
And when he or she does join BillyBob, repeat your same script: “Oh, Martha! Martha, you are here sitting on the floor just like Mrs. Gina asked! Martha, thank you so much for sitting on the floor criss-cross applesauce. Great job joining us! BillyBob and Martha, you are doing such a good job sitting down.”
Then they’ll come in drones, I tell you. And as they flood over, exclaim, “Oh! I see you Johnny! I see you obeying! And Susie, good job sitting down! I see you Mary and Peter and Noah! Way to go! Look at all of you sitting so nicely!”
Give all your attention to those who are sitting down as you’ve asked. And give them plenty of praise and eye contact.
And shazaam. Before you can say bob’s your uncle, you’ll have the whole crew gathered ’round. It’s like magic. And you didn’t even need to pull out your cattle prod. Well done you!
You see, there’s a deeper principle here: kids love attention. So if you ignore those who are obeying to chase after those who aren’t, you end up losing the whole group.
But if you focus on the few who are doing what you’ve asked, [you might just be shocked to find how fast] the others will join in.
There’s something there for us grown-ups, too. When we sit eagerly at the feet of Jesus, others will come. God uses our obedience, and His affirmation of our obedience, to draw others to Himself. And that’s better than herding noisy cats any day of the week.
“Through Him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for His Name’s sake” (Romans 1:5).