I love little girls when they are in that three to five year old range. They will put together the most creative outfits you have ever seen. I remember I left our sleeping daughter with my husband when she was that age. He was going to help her get dressed and then they were meeting me somewhere a little later. She showed up in let’s just say a very innovative outfit.
Now to the average person, this particular outfit looked as if it had been pieced together by someone who was slightly color blind. When I asked her about it, she proudly replied “It’s all pink!” And she was right. In all of it’s mismatched, clashing glory, it was all pink. She was beautiful because she was confident in her beauty and fashion choices. She didn’t care what anyone else thought in that moment, because she was “pink”!
How great is that? What if we could somehow teach our children to be that confident about their Christianity? About making godly choices even when no one else does? About loving and serving those viewed as unloveable? About sharing their faith confidently with anyone and everyone?
Christianity is actually an interesting mix of grace and work. Step outside of any preconceived ideas and take a look at the New Testament with fresh eyes. When you do, it becomes obvious we cannot save ourselves and we are saved only by and through the grace of God.
On the other hand, Jesus and the disciples worked like crazy. Yes, they attended the occasional dinner party and fished from time to time, but they also worked hard. They were constantly traveling from place to place teaching, healing and serving others. The Apostle Paul even continued to run his tent making business while he preached. Even the early Christians were so busy working deacons were created to help handle some of the work load that had fallen on the elders.
The problem in life is that most people ride the pendulum. If they believed work was required too much when growing up, then they preach only grace – Christians can sit back and have fun – no work expected. If you grew up in an environment with too much grace, then your pendulum probably swung the other way. The truth lies in the balance. We are saved by God’s grace, but God wants and expects us to work in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons – for our own good and the good of the Kingdom.
If you have ever watched a horror movie, you know not to go into that dark basement when you hear a scary noise. Something bad always happens. Yet even though everyone watching the movie is screaming for what is coming next, the character blindly walks into disaster – sometimes more than once in the same movie. I think Dr. Phil calls it “doubling down on stupid”? You know the person who keeps making the same mistake over and over while everyone around them is practically screaming “Don’t do it!”?
Doesn’t sound very kind, but the truth is we can get stuck in life because we are not learning an important lesson and making changes. Those who don’t, live a life making the same mistakes over and over. What if you could help your friends and family get unstuck? What if you could unstick your own life? What if you could teach your kids those lessons and they could learn them before making some big mistakes?
I am a big fan of the work of Dr. Henry Cloud, so I was interested when I learned he had a new book Never Go Back: 10 Things You’ll Never Do Again. As usual, Dr. Cloud doesn’t disappoint. The premise of this book is that there are ten basic mistakes people tend to make. The successful people in life only make them once – they learn their lesson, make changes and succeed because of it. The rest get stuck making the same mistake over and over again.
This post comes with a warning label. Over my lifetime, I have seen countless kids drawn away from God because of intense participation in a sport. Rarely, have I seen a child who received massive college scholarships or went professional, in spite of untold hours spent in practice, travel and games. Your child is more likely to become injured and have to drop the sport before college or become burned out and no longer want to play.
If I were to advise you, I would say steer clear of anything more than the lowest level of involvement in any sport. Try to find teams and coaches who encourage and demand godly behavior from their teams. Stay away from coaches who encourage lying, cheating, doing questionable things to your body to “enhance” performance, etc.
If you decide to involve your children in organized sports, I would highly encourage you to find ways for them to serve others and share their faith by using their sport. Better yet, have your child develop his sports skills as a hobby and then use those skills to serve God by using them to serve others and share his faith. Here are some of my favorite ways for athletic children to serve others while sharing their faith and their passion for athletics:
Just when I think I have heard of every possible career, I see something like this. Who knew there was such a thing as geese police? Part of the fun of having a child is helping them explore all of the possibilities for future careers. Don’t just limit yourselves to the standard doctors, lawyers, business people and teachers. Check out books on fun careers. Read biographies with your children about people with unusual career paths. Take your child to watch people at work in all sorts of places.
Career exploration is important and can be lots of fun for you and your child. Don’t stop there though. If your child chooses a particular career, how could he honor God while he is working? What ways could she point people to God? Would it be possible to share his faith with co-workers or clients?