by Traever Wieland

Is, a, it, the…

Jacey, my preschool daughter, is learning sight words. For those of you that don’t know, sight words are words that are immediately recognizable as whole words and do not require word analysis for recognition; you basically recognize them when you see them. Words like is, a, it, and the, are sight words. The goal behind teaching Jacey sight words is to help her acquire words that are important building blocks in the construction of her ability to read. Imagine if she would come home after a day of learning the word “the,” and excitedly show and explain to me what she learned. Now imagine that I ignored her excitement over the word “the” and began to teach her the word “phrase.” I would guess it would go something like this:

“Jacey, what does the word “phrase” start with?” “F?”

“No, it’s actually p-h, but it sounds like f.

What about the rest, can you sound it out?”

“F?”

“No, p-h. It starts p-h-rrrrrr, what makes the rrrrrr sound?”

“R?”

“Yes, now keep going”

“P-h-r-a-z”

“No, not exactly. The z sound you hear is actually an s, and it ends in e. Try again.”

“F?”

You can imagine the frustration on both of our ends; me, trying to explain something that seems so simple, and her trying to understand a concept that is totally foreign.

Regrettably, I have done follow-up with new Christians this way. I have rushed them into conversations that I thought were incredibly simple, only to leave them frustrated and no closer to Jesus. In my effort to see immediate change in their life, I pushed them to know and understand what has taken me 20 years to learn. Unfortunately, I missed the fact that they’re just excited to have learned the word “the.”

Peter didn’t become the Rock that Jesus was to build the church upon when he first dropped his nets to follow Jesus. It took him years of watching, listening, following, failing, and learning before he became the Rock. Perhaps, when we are following-up (discipling) with new Christians, we should be celebrating each step toward Jesus: celebrate when they come to you excited that they just learned that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus; celebrate when they memorize “Jesus wept;” celebrate when they choose not to “get high” on the weekend. It’s in these small steps that they are building the important building blocks that will make them lifelong followers of Jesus.

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