It’s that time of year again when the diamonds we dream about are made of dirt and chalk. Which reminds me of a subject I’m pretty passionate about, competition. A little competition is a good thing. A lot, not so much!
Tenacity is a great quality, but when carried to the extreme it produces driven people. You know the kind, the ones who don’t care who they run over or hurt to achieve their goals. This kind of determination usually has it’s root in pride or insecurity (the other side of pride). And as we all know, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 Pride can disguise itself in any number of subtle ways, but in the end, it always brings destruction.
Teach your children to be winners, but not at the cost of compromise. Compromise brings a shallow and short lived sense of victory. Teach them to work hard and not to be a quitter. Find something they love more than their penchant for giving up.
My daughter had a tendency to give up when things got hard. One of her great loves in life is horses. She’s been horse crazy since she caught her first glimpse of one. To help her with this character flaw, the quitting not the horses, we gave her riding lessons at a very exclusive stable who trained kids for the Olympic Equestrian events. I’ll never forget the day that her horse stopped short of the jump and she not so gracefully launched over his head and took the jump without him. As she lay there on the ground, an erie sense of expectation gripped everyone watching. It was as though we were all holding our breath, instinctively knowing we were about to witness a life-impacting decision. Would she get up and get back on the horse, or would she quit? As she got to her feet there was that hushed expectation as we waited for her reaction. As she placed her foot in the stirrup and started to pull herself up, there was an audible sigh of relief from the spectators as we witnessed her good choice. That moment was a turning point in her life that broke the syndrome of giving up when the going got hard.
It’s important that we teach our kids to meet challenges head on, and to go to the principles of the Word for answers to these challenges. Then, they will always be a winner. Sometimes the one who comes in first is the winner, but sometimes it’s the one who comes in last. Appearances can be deceptive. Winning at the inward qualities is not always as easy as preparing for a foot race, but it is exactly what Paul likens it to. He talks a lot about running the race and finishing his course, and he ponders the outcome of giving up and not finishing the race. There is only one race that has eternal consequences, and that’s the where we want to teach our children to focus their greatest energy.
How many great football heroes, champions in their fields such as, scientists, noble prize winners, world figures, and movie idols will stand before the world as victors and before the Judgement Seat of God a failure? Think about that the next time little Johnny’s Little League teams looses a game over an error or a bad call. Think about the insignificance of that game in light of eternity before you tell the umpire just what you think of his eyesight, or before you bad mouth the coach all the way home in front of your child. Either one of these acts will have a far greater negative impact on your child than the loss of one game, even if it is the Championship.
Teach your children to be a winner, even when they lose. Their attitudes will determine their tomorrow. Sometimes it is easier to gain Godly character in a losing situation. We are not being realistic if we think we will never be faced with trials or difficult circumstances. If they don’t learn how to handle the loss of a little league game in a Godly manner, how will they deal with more difficult challenges later in life? Use every circumstance as a learning situation and a teaching moment. That is how you can turn defeats into victories every time. Your child will not only gain Godly character, but a more positive outlook on life and a truly humble spirit. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6