“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:1-5, NIV)

In this and other moments, Jesus showed how much He valued children and held them up as examples for His disciples. What did He mean when He said we should “change and become like little children”? As the school season starts up again, I’m reminded that a huge part of being a child is learning. Jesus’ statement in Matthew 18 suggests to me that we all need to be like children with hearts ready to learn.  

A Learner is Humble

Jesus tells His disciples that they must take the “lowly position” of a child. Being a learner always has an aspect of humility to go along with it. To be teachable, we have to first acknowledge that we don’t know everything.

A Learner Trusts

Being a learner also often has an aspect of trust with it. We trust that someone else has more answers than we do and has our best interests at heart. Why would we learn from someone we don’t trust to give us good information or advice? Unlike human beings, God is always trustworthy.

A Learner is Eager to Grow

Being a learner also involves a sense of wonder and openness. We’re not closed off and focused on what we already know, we’re ready to grow and maybe even change our mind about some things. Sometimes, this openness requires a degree of courage when we need to adjust our own wrong thinking. But the rewards are an even greater sense of wonder and understanding.

When it comes to the Lord, we’re all learners and we always will be. I believe that part of what Jesus was communicating when He called us to be like children is to cultivate the humility, trust, and childlike wonder of a learner’s heart.  


Author Hannah Rau is a Michigan-based writer and writing tutor. Hannah earned degrees in English and rhetoric and minored in Bible. She enjoys exploring literature, media, and culture through the lens of her Christian faith. And drinking coffee. Lots of coffee.