In fourth grade, my kids have the opportunity to learn how to debate. They’re in the debate segment of the curriculum right now. This makes me happy.
As you might guess, our kids are already pretty familiar with the concept of debate. First of all, Bray and I support different political parties and any election season elicits a fair amount of debate in our house. Second of all, I’m a lawyer and therefore fairly prone to debating on any manner of topics. And finally, the kids are triplets and are regularly debating their position in order to get what they want or get out of trouble.
I love that they’re learning how to support their position with supporting concepts during these classroom debates.
The topics have varied from class to class. The boys class debated the merits of dog ownership versus cat ownership. Little bit’s class debated the value of getting paid for chores versus not getting paid.
But on Wednesday, little bit’s teacher, Mrs. B, threw out an interesting debate topic: Is it easier to follow Jesus or not to follow Jesus.
We attend a small private Christian school, so I can imagine the topic idea caught the kids a little off guard. Since they get to choose their side for the debate, no one raised their hand to advocate that it’s easier not to follow Jesus.
Except little bit.
I’d gone to chapel that morning and afterwards Mrs. B approached me. She said how proud she was of our girl for taking a position different from the rest of the class and how her ideas were really strong and her point of view unique. Little bit approached me when she heard, nervously, and said, are you mad? Of course not, I responded, it’s absolutely easier to do your own thing and not have to worry about following what Jesus says.
She came home last night excited to write out her debate ideas on her 3X5 cards. She told Mrs. B this morning she would be happy to debate the entire class herself if no one wanted to advocate with her. Today, one other boy decided to debate on little bit’s “team.”
As she talked through her points tonight in advance of tomorrow’s debate, she tried to find additional support for her position. She had to go two rounds. One with supporting ideas for why it’s hard to follow Jesus. One with support for the same idea but focused on it being hard to follow Jesus’ plan.
When it came to why it’s hard to follow Jesus, she had lots of solid reasons: I mean you have to forgive everyone, how hard is that; and you have to love, everyone! Then she started laying out why it’s so hard to follow His plan. For one thing, she said, it’s really hard to wait on Jesus plan instead of following your own plan immediately. And what if you don’t know what His plan is?
Truth. The forgiving. Waiting. Not knowing. HARD.
But then she said, His plan is always better.
Just because it’s harder, didn’t mean she didn’t want to try. It’s just she knew it would be harder.
Luke 9:23 – If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily
John 16:33 – In the world you will have tribulation
James 1:2 – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds
Romans 5:3 – We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance
She wasn’t quoting scripture, she may not even know them, but she was laying out a pretty deep theological argument: Don’t follow Jesus because you think it’s easier. You won’t get very far. It’s better. It’s not easier.
I don’t know what made me prouder.
Her having a sense that the price of Christianity doesn’t come cheap at the ripe old age of 10, or her bravery. She boldly took a position for which no one else wanted to advocate. Then she offered to debate the entire class alone. My little introvert for whom school can be a challenge chose the brave option. And she was excited about it too. She came home bubbling and working on Wednesday and Thursday nights.
She teaches me so much about life and myself. And this week, she reminded me, better may be harder. Do better.