Everybody Wins a Trophy

Anyone who has been around me for more than a minute knows this is my mantra as to why the world has so many problems. It all started when we began to reward kids for merely participating in things. And while I don't seriously think this is the sole reason our culture is in so much trouble, I do think we do our children a disservice when we reward them for merely being a part of things. And I don’t think that the Bible teaches us to do this either.

But before I get into the Biblical aspect let me share a story of two brothers. Brother Number One seemed to have everything come extremely easily to him. He made straight As without trying, he was athletic, all his teachers loved him, he won at everything he tried and so on. In fact, he was so “lucky” that one time he finished third in a State competition. You had to place 1st or 2nd to go to Nationals. Finally, I thought, he is going to learn how to deal with disappointment. But no, just like the Miss America contest, one of the first or second place students couldn’t attend Nationals, so viola, Brother Number One got to go after all. I think you get the picture.

Brother Number Two was equally smart but had to work for it; he wasn’t athletic, he got into trouble with his teachers often, and objects seemed to break when he merely looked at them. Things usually just did not go his way. He tried every contest he could, but he just couldn’t win. As a parent, I was torn. I will admit there was a part of me that wanted Brother Number One to fail at something. Not because I was a mean parent but because I wanted him to learn to lose gracefully, to handle disappointment maturely and to learn to lean into God in those times when things were hard. I wanted brother two to win at something, anything please. How this saga ends is another story for another day, but I will say this, when Brother Number One hit a wall and something finally didn’t come easy, he didn’t fare so well, while Brother Number Two just kept chugging along like the Little Engine That Could and learned many valuable life lessons.

The point I’m trying to make from this story is that if our kids don’t ever experience disappointment, they won’t learn how to deal with it. If they aren’t ever allowed to lose or complete something without a physical reward, how are they ever going to learn to be satisfied with merely finishing well? How many of us can say that everything has been perfect in our lives? I am 100% confident that the answer to that is no one. It is how we respond to life’s disappointments and who we turn to that helps define us as Christians. And how we teach our kids to do that is who we are called to be as Christian parents. We should teach our children that it's okay to lose or it's okay if we are not perfect all the time because winning or success is not where we find our significance. Our significance should be found through Jesus. Only then can we learn to handle life’s disappointments.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, one of the main points he is trying to make is that Jesus alone is sufficient. He is enough. All the trophies, ribbons, and accolades that we acquire will never be enough, only Christ is enough and in Christ we find our significance. We should always do our best and try our hardest, not because we need a physical reward but because by doing so we honor Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 says, ”Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” So teach your children to do their best and know that sometimes your best wins and sometimes it doesn’t. But when it doesn’t, and you don’t get that trophy or ribbon or science fair prize, you are going to be okay because you have honored Christ. And that is far more important in the grand scheme of things because it is in Christ that we find our true identity.
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