Measuring greatness: Children and the kingdom of God

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Joy is Measurable courtesy of Funkybug via Flickr

Joy is Measurable courtesy of Funkybug via Flickr

One again, I am extremely grateful for a dear friend who has agreed to contribute this guest blog, as I am busy doing those last minute things professors do before the beginning of a new school year.  

often describe Dr. Diane Langberg as the “Margaret Thatcher of psychology”.  She is one of the wisest individuals I have ever met, who spends her life compassionately serving the vulnerable and abused.  In addition to being a clinical psychologist, Dr. Langberg is an international speaker and successful author.  Her book, On the Threshold of Hope, has helped thousands who have lived through the horrors of abuse.  I am privileged to introduce Diane Langberg, my fellow GRACE board member, my friend, and one of my life heroes. – Boz


What is the condition for greatness in the kingdom of God? That seems like a pretty important question, doesn’t it? In essence, what does it take to be great in the greatest kingdom of time and eternity?

If we look around the faith community today there seem to be some who have achieved greatness. They are respected, followed, lauded and raised high. They are articulate, charismatic, read by thousands and verbally powerful. They are known. However, such lives do not provide us with the answer. In response to the question raised by his disciples, who while jostling for greatness, nevertheless asked a highly significant question, Jesus placed a little child in their midst. Apparently, Jesus measures greatness differently in his kingdom.

[tweetable]In our kingdoms greatness is measured by high position, fame, money, and power. No child would qualify.[/tweetable]  As a matter of fact children would get trampled in such a kingdom. And indeed they do. In our efforts to achieve what we call greatness, we ignore, use, humiliate, and fail children in many ways, including complicity in covering such things as abuse when exposure threatens our coveted greatness.

Joy is Measurable courtesy of Funkybug via Flickr

Joy is Measurable courtesy of Funkybug via Flickr

You see, Jesus measures greatness on the level of soul not size. We can have large sized trappings and be known as great. Jesus wants a great soul known to be like him and he became little. He put the child in the middle and said unless you get down here you cannot achieve greatness.

So how do we know if we are like a child? How do we know if we have achieved greatness in the kingdom of God? He told us the answer quite clearly: if we are like the child we will receive the child. In addition he says that those who hurt children or cause them to stumble are exposed as not having a child heart.

When we turn our eyes away, close our hearts, deny truth for the sake of comfort or fame; when we under any circumstances respond in a way that does not receive, nurture or protect a child we actually destroy not only the child but also ourselves. Jesus says in making such choices it would have been to our profit to have a millstone around our necks and be drowned in the sea. The offender will make more in the economy of God by such a death than he ever will if he offends a child.

The child-heart receives the child. Those without a child-heart offend the child or protect those who do. Those who receive the child also receive Jesus. Those who do not receive the child offend Jesus. To abuse or wound a child; to conceal or remain silent about such abuse is to wound Jesus. [tweetable]Our treatment of children, in public or in secret, is an expose of the size of our souls.[/tweetable]  Given the statistics about child abuse in the faith community and the staggering failure of leaders, parents, and religious institutions to protect the children I would say that we have very few great souls among us today. We can test our own souls by our relationship to children.

The great souls among us bend down, slow down and protect little ones and vulnerable ones. The great souls demonstrate humility, simplicity, and yield to instruction. Children always bear the impress of others in their lives. To be great in the kingdom of God is to bear the impress of Jesus who blessed the children and never offended one.

[tweetable]Our false measures of greatness lead us to despise the little ones. In doing so, we despise Christ.[/tweetable]  To despise a little one is also to despise the angels in heaven and the Eternal God for whom they serve the little ones.

To be great then means to speak out for the little and the vulnerable. It means to expose the deeds of darkness and rescue the oppressed and abused. It means to stop, listen, receive and act on behalf of the children. It means to know that no mission, no church, no school, no family and no institution is to allow or conceal the despising of little ones and that if it does all those who are complicit in that offend both children and Christ. Those who fail to receive one child anywhere at any time are not great no matter their accomplishments but instead are contributing to the destruction of a child, the shrinking of their souls and the marring of the name of the greatest One who ever walked this earth – the one who was born a babe in a manger.

Dr. Diane Langberg is a psychologist with forty years’ experience working with trauma nationally and globally. More information can be found at:

  • Frank

    Its absolutely inexcusable that any one who claims they follow Jesus to support the killing of over 27k innocent unborn children each week in the US alone mostly for reasons of convenience and comfort.

  • Tonya Dalton

    Very good, and very powerful, as always. I have Diane Langberg’s book, “On the Threshold of Hope” and love it. Diane truly understands the heart of the Gospel regarding sexual abuse, and I am so thankful for this book. Thank you, Diane. You have helped me to see God’s tender compassion for abuse victims. <3

  • Lori

    Powerful article. So thankful for the warrior Dr. Langberg has been for the abused and broken. Her book, On The Threshold of Hope, truly is a guide to help one go from despair to a place of hope and healing. The Church desperately needs this message, if our leaders don’t get this issue right, then what can they possibly offer a dying world?

  • Learning to be a survivor

    This article is incredible. I wonder often how men who are seen as so great, who are admired and almost worshipped by other great “godly” men. It is confusing when the cover sexual abuse, yet all they do seems to be excusable as they are great men of god and they are seen as such great men who cannot be questioned.
    I what you say is true, and the measure of them is how they treat children, then all the worth they have compiled for themselves is worth nothing. Perhaps even those who were broken by the abuse perpetrated by these men of god, perhaps we have some worth after all? We were seen as damaged goods. We were seen as defiled. There are lists of all the words they have collected to describe us, all the words that will keep us silent and protect their ministries.
    So if we speak out and speaking out defends other children from the same fate we endured, then we would be doing God’s work? Is that what I am understanding?
    It is very hard to clearly understand this. We grew up sure that if we ever told about abuse, we would surely send the “heathen” to hell. We would destroy God’s ministry. Now, from what is written above, it doesn’t seem that they were doing God’s ministry as children were always sacrificed.

  • A. Smythe

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. These so called “Men of God” set themselves up with power and welcomed the adulation of the sycophantic masses. Then they eventually became their own gods, interpreting their holy books to suit themselves and thereby destroyed the lives of innocent women and children as they became more and more perverted.

    I grew up being told the same perverted reasoning. The souls of natives were used as a bribe to buy our silence as we were raped, beaten and molested.

    The only way to stop these atrocities is to cut off the money supply to the organisations that have sheltered paedophiles, which can only be achieved by waking up those who have their brain and consciences turned off in the churches and are naively financing missions who have the lives of innocent children on their hands!

  • Shary Hauber

    Thanks Boz and Dr Langberg. Can we go the next step see the greatness in our children. We often hear “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” believing we must even beat it out of them. We act toward children as this is the total sum of a child. But Jesus said be like them. What is great that we need to see and follow. We are so busy trying to make children just miniature adults and to teach them to be our standard. We value childlikeness so little. Do we try to copy the godlikeness in them. Their godlike childlikeness is what makes them vulnerable. Their faith in God that does not waver. Their worship of the creator as they discover nature. Their trust in the human race. Their hope in the future. Their acceptance of anyone regardless of appearances. The question is how do I “…change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Why aren’t we studying, emulating, and honoring children so we too may enter the kingdom of heaven?

  • Oscar

    And one voice said to the Pastor
    “There is a wolf amongst your sheep
    I implore you to look at the fangs
    Underneath the skin he does keep”

    The Pastor dismissed the voice
    For the coffers were sore of need
    And the wolf in sheeps clothing
    Did the call for funds so often heed

    The Pastor preached forgiveness
    And the sheep grazed on his word
    For they were never warned
    Till the teeth they felt and heard

    Then the Pastor noticed a little lamb
    He called his very own
    Did not come home one day
    For he had reaped what he had sown

    He buried his little lamb
    With tears of awful grief
    And sought the solace of the flock
    To give his pain relief

    But his call went unheeded
    When he asked all to join him in holy prayer
    For apart from the wolf in sheep’s clothing
    There was nobody there!

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