Individuals must become as little children in order to keep a bright hope, sense of wonder and curiosity while building personal lives upon faith, according to a professor of educational leadership and foundations at Tuesday’s Devotional.
Scott Ferrin, an adjunct professor of law and an affiliated scholar of the Wheatley Institution at BYU, shared his thoughts on the Christmas season and Christ’s invitation to become like a child. Ferrin currently serves as president of the Provo Utah Bonneville Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As he shared his message with Christmas spirit and a childlike sense of humor, the audience responded with lighthearted laughter.
Ferrin suggested that Christ’s kingdom on the earth is the perfect economy to become like a little child. He said the celebration of Christmas, and the circumstances in which Christ came, are a perfect way to explore that idea.
“He (Heavenly Father) sent a helpless child to a choice and worthy woman and a humble and believing man living in insecure circumstances in a conquered land occupied by a hostile force,” Ferrin said. “The harsh geopolitical and military circumstances of Christ’s birth should remind us that Heavenly Father can bless us even if the external circumstances of our lives aren’t necessarily easy or peaceful.”
Ferrin said the stark contrast between Herod’s palace and the stable of Christ’s humble birth is hard to ignore but that Christ is infinitely more important. He said true happiness in the Christmas season comes from celebrating the opportunities Christ has given to His children through His life.
“We must ‘receive’ the supernal Christmas gift of the kingdom of God as a little child,” Ferrin said. “If you and I in our weakness follow the plan of happiness our Heavenly Father has established, made possible by the gift of his Son, we will receive the greatest gift possible, eternal life with our Heavenly Father.”
He shared stories of great men and women, including his father who fought in World War II. He shared how those who have gone before have helped future generations be able to enjoy the simple things in life instead of bloody, scarring war memories.
“Christmas gives us time to make memories in our quest for conversion to the childlike,” Ferrin said. “I always tell my children, and I remind us, that we only get a finite number of Christmases on this earth, so we should enjoy each one and never get too mature to enjoy all the classic Christmas traditions, movies and Christmas-themed jokes.”
After a few jokes of his own, Ferrin explored why people change from the innocent magic of Christmas to often more dismal perspectives in adulthood.
“To a child, at least to a healthy child who hasn’t been harmed by abuse, the world and Christmas itself are all still fresh and possible,” Ferrin said. “So what happened to you and me as we grew older, and most importantly, what happened to us that Christ wants us to combat in our maturity, to become as little children? Why do we tend to become stuffy scaredy cats?”
Ferrin admonished the audience to embrace their youth and do with it what they can while they have it.
“There’s nothing sadder than youth being wasted on the young,” Ferrin said. “We’re supposed to become as little children, and that shouldn’t include a lot of fear about our future.”
Ferrin said fear may come from a loss of hope that comes with age and that becoming like a child is part of the conversion process.
“Without hope you cannot be pleasing to God, and as a little secret, without hope, curiosity and wonder, you can’t really be too pleasing to your professors either,” Ferrin said. “Availing ourselves of hope, curiosity and wonder, and adding faith to the mix, we should not choose too safe a plan in our lives. We need to be fearless and not faint-hearted.”
Ferrin invited audience members to become more childlike as spoken of in The Book of Mormon. He said there is no better time to do so than the Christmas season.
“I submit that we should be ready to be cowboys if that is what our hearts and the Spirit dictate, or kindergarten teachers, doctors, or molecular biologists, and we should live our lives with courage and submission to the Lord,” Ferrin said. “This Christmas season I invite each of us to foster and care more for the child of God within us, and bend to the exigencies of life and finances less — to take joy in the wonderful and simple journey to be the child that is like those who make up the kingdom of God.”