During the summer I am at home a lot more. Because of that, I get to spend more time with my family. The other day I was reading nursery rhymes with my daughter. This one, in particular, caught my attention.

Little Ships

Little ships
Must keep the shore;
Larger ships
May venture more.

There’s not much to this nursery rhyme really. However, the thing that caught my attention is how closely this imitates life, both spiritually and physically.

My daughter is a young child. There isn’t much she does where my wife and I aren’t around. She has strict limits on everything from television time to where she goes outside. That is the way it should be! As she starts to mature and show responsibility our boundaries and limits for her will expand.

She will be allowed to venture out a little further from the shore.

Spiritually, it is much the same way. As one is nurturing a younger believer (age or experience) there is a tremendous opportunity to help him or her by spending quality time together. This is when you help solidify what is already occurring in their heart. This is also where you can offer guidance as their actions learn to align with what their heart is already experiencing.

As someone continues to mature you release them a bit at a time. Think about Jesus and his followers. They spent massive amounts of life together. When the time came he released them into the roles they were to fill.

They ventured further from the shore with a course of travel in mind.

Isn’t that the way it should be?

Don’t ever forget, though, we (or they) are never alone. As parents, both spiritually and physically, we should always available to help, to encourage, to pray, to offer advice, to pick them up when they fall (they will), and to love them.

This whole nursery rhyme thing reminds me of something else that I read somewhere. I don’t know who said it or where I read it but it goes something like this…

I do, you watch
I do, you help
You do, I help
You do, I watch

This is the pattern of discipleship, whether spiritual or familial. If you’d like a good book to read on this let me suggest “The Master Plan of Evangelism” by Robert E. Coleman.

Even better than that… grab a partner, pull up anchor, and head out to sea!

“A wise old owl sat in an oak, the more he heard the less he spoke; the less he spoke the more he heard; why aren’t we all like that wise old bird?”

The more I think about it the more I like this Mother Goose nursery rhyme. The truth in it rings so true. How often do we talk too much and listen too little?

I’m reminded of the first part of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God…” So many times when I’m talking to people I dominate the conversation and don’t really focus on what’s being said. When I pray I talk too much and listen too little.

I really notice it with the students at the school where I teach. They will be talking and I will constantly have to remind myself to focus on what they’re saying. I’m thinking about what I’m going to say before they are even done. Does that ever happen to you? The students tend to be the same way. In their youthful exuberance they also want to be heard. Each one of them are talking for attention. What if they, what if we, listened more and talked less?

This bird is definitely wise. However, his wisdom is not original. This timeless truth and many others can be found straight from the Bible, God’s own words to us. The book of Proverbs contains so many wise sayings to guide us in our journey. Read a Proverb a day, there are thirty-one, and watch God transform your life by His Word.

The wisdom of this wise old owl is available to everyone in the Bible.

Do I talk too much? Maybe. Every once in a while, though, I will stop and pray “Lord teach me to listen.”