Christ admonished us to become as a little child. I love this idea because I've spent thousands of hours watching little children and discovering what he meant. I think if we study them, they will teach us almost everything we need to know about how to live as Christ meant.
Here are some of my observations:
Little children love everyone. They are not inhibited with their hugs. They have not yet learned rejection, and so they don't let it hold them back. Who doesn't love a hug from a little kid? What if we were all openly affectionate to one another - touching people on the shoulder when we speak to them, making eye contact, hugging upon greeting and departing?
Quick to forgive
You can punish a child or snap at them, and they will bounce right back. Someone can hurt them, and they forget in an instant. Watch a nursery full of small children, and you will see them love the one that just bit them. This is something we, as adults, struggle with, but need to learn.
Little children love to give. Ask them for their favorite toy and chances are they'd give it to you. They give to their friends. If you give them a cookie, it is not uncommon for them to break it in half and give half back to you. Who does that sound like? Most likely, we all need to learn to be a little more generous with our time, things and resources.
You've probably played the fake-crying-behind-hands game with a child to see her reaction. She wants to make it better. When you are sad, he is sad. Sometimes he will even opt to make a funny face to cheer you. Compassion is a great quality in a child, and a greater one in an adult.
Eager to please
I love watching kids sweep and mop and try to do dishes. They are eager to serve and more eager to please. They look for opportunities to serve the ones they love. They want to help ease your burdens. They look for opportunities to pitch in and help. Definitely need to work on this one.
Sometimes that assertiveness turns to pushiness, but they have a way of letting you know what they need. They don't sit and sulk and say, "If you loved me you'd know what I want." Nope. They tell you or show you. No game playing, there. I think, as adults, we fear being assertive because we confuse it with aggression. They are two different things. There is no shame in asking for what we need.
Children love to show you what they've done, built, colored, constructed or composed. They have natural talents and are not afraid to explore them, practice them and share them. Likewise, we all have been given natural talents or gifts that we should explore, practice and share.
Eager to learn new things
Children are like little sponges, and they soak up everything around them. They want to learn. They crave it. They are not afraid to tackle new things. There is so much to learn. As adults, there is even more.
Children are uninhibited when it comes to trying something new. They are not worried about looking stupid. They haven't yet developed phobias. They want to experience life and not be held back. We need to let go of some of our "fear of looking stupid" and just jump into new things.
This is a huge one. The queen mother of all traits that we seem to lose as we age. Children trust everyone. Completely. This is the reason we need to work so hard to protect them. But something happens when we grow up, and we lose that trust only to replace it with cynicism. While we do need to be somewhat guarded against the wolves that prowl around us, a little more trust for humanity in general would serve us well.
I believe these are some of the wondrous qualities that we can work on to help us become as a little child. Christ had a reason for teaching us this lesson, and we need to take it to heart.