Monday, April 14, 2014

Winning and quitting.

I never won much as a kid. When it comes to participation ribbons, I have them in spades. There are really only a few things I have ever done exceptionally well at - and even those things didn't win me any trophies. 

The biggest reason I don't have a closet full of football trophies is because I am not genetically set up to be a football player, but a close second is that I was a quitter when it came to football. As early as third grade I realized that I like watching people play football - but I don't like people hitting me. If I had only stuck it out I would be down at the local hardware store right now telling stories about how I almost got a scholarship to play at some D3 school somewhere. My lack of baseball trophies, however, is a different story. I was not only genetically set up for baseball, I had a father who helped nurture me in the sport. I was not lacking for instruction and early on I had a real love for the game. I was quite good. So what happened? I am glad I don't have a "torn ACL at just the wrong time" story - although that would garner more respect. No, no injuries. I just quit putting in the time. Instead, Jr. high brought a new love of music into my life and I began to coast by with the natural ability for baseball that I had. As other kids honed their baseball skills, I let mine become lazy and "just enough". Just enough doesn't get you a spot with the Red Sox (or the Nashville Sounds). 

I can think of 3 or 4 examples from my life just like baseball. I suffer from a common issue in the United States called: "Jack of all trades, master of none". How does this happen? How did I wake up one morning with nothing I am exceptional at? It happened because I woke up every morning choosing to be less than exceptional at things. 

Paul tells us that if we want to win the race we need to "press on to the goal"(Philippians 3) and "discipline" ourselves ( 1 Corinthians 9). Winning happens at a low level because of natural ability. When you are competing against a bunch of beginners, natural ability is your best friend. When you are competing against a bunch of "seasoned pros" you better have disciplined yourself - otherwise defeat is inevitable. 

I love seeing Andrew succeed, but I also secretly hope for some failure. I hope he gets discouraged against baseball, football, and basketball. I am not a horrible dad, I just happen to realize my kid is more of a mathlete than he is an athlete (I blame Kelly...). I hope he doesn't waste his best "disciplining" years on the wrong thing (or too many things). It is fine to be both a geek and a jock - however, it generally isn't a realistic long term possibility. When you are spread thin, it is hard to run deep. My hope for Andrew is that he finds one or two things that he can "run deep" in. My job as his parent is to help him discipline himself to win the race, but I believe it is also my job to help him realize the race God has set out before him. 

As parents we shouldn't force our kids towards our passions - but let us not spread them too thin either by parading too many things in front of them. They say "winners never quit", which is true as long as they don't quit the things they are good at. Make no mistake, winners do quit! They quit the things that they aren't successful at so they can spend more time focusing on where they are a winner. 

So what is a parent to do?

1. Pray that God will show you and your children the passions and desires he has for their lives. 
2. Don't let your kids quit on their passions that they "press towards" and succeed at. 
3. Help your kids quit at the things they don't "press towards" and succeed at. ("Try, try again" is great advice if you are passionate and are actually trying!)
4. Celebrate accomplishments - all accomplishments. If kids fall in love with succeeding - they will find something to succeed at. 

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