I LOVED winning baseball games as a kid. Nothing seemed more glorious to my childhood psyche than that $9.50 first place trophy. Yes, my aspirations were pitifully small (this may explain why I had to repeat second grade) but my desires were drenched with passion. I practiced every chance I got; I played hurt at times; and, I publicly challenged my coaches bad decisions. I was all in for the trophy. Finally at the mature age of 11, I snagged I did snag me a championship trophy. Oh the Joy! Sadly, it was short lived. The following year, my team topped out at second. I ended my little league career crying in my dad’s car too angry to speak.
Why The Tears
I mention my own experiences with rec league baseball because they point to an important truth. Nothing will satisfy us other than Jesus. If our kids are living for baseball, good grades, or musical perfection, they will not be satisfied. Their little emotions, self-esteem, and joy will fluctuate drastically with each success or failure. Often kids who lose it when they lose, fail, or make a mistake are not just sensitive. Most are idol worshipers whose idol just got exploded by dose of reality. Because their hope for fulfillment was based on their efforts, they cry.
The Solution For Failure
Despite what Nike commercials say, the solution is not to practice harder or to start earlier. Getting more trophies, more money, and more fame will not make our kids more fulfilled. As Solomon concluded, “I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Kids who strive for more and more worldly success will only find more and more emptiness.As David Platt writes,
The desire for more is a trap. As we indulge this desire, it destroys our soul bit by bit. And it may destroy us forever – p. 40.
The solution is to make Christ everything. “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:27). We should remind our kids that their worth, hope, and joy are ultimately found in Christ! Yes, God has given us sports, knowledge, and the arts. But, we are to use them for his glory and not for our satisfaction. When we try to find satisfaction in stuff, we get only disappointment because we lose sight of God. Jesus said it this way:
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. – John 6:53b-57
Nothing other than Jesus will save us. And nothing other than Jesus will make us happy in this life. As John Piper said,
The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, but in God – p.23.
As we gear up for a spring full of activities, let’s encourage our kids to feed on Jesus! Below our three tips for making this happen:
Three Tips For Heavenly Success
- Model our dependence for Christ. We need to pray and be in the word regularly. We need to make service to others and the worship of God our highest priorities. We need to fight the temptation to find our satisfaction in our kids’ success. And, we need to depend on prayer and scripture when making decisions. In short, we need to find our joy by obeying God’s commands!
- Discipline sin. When we see our kids throw tantrums or snap at a coach, we handout suspensions. We end practices for our kids and make them take time off. We help them see that obedience to Christ is a way bigger deal than success. True, our kids may suffer at little on the field or in the classroom. But honestly, this is ok. As Jesus says,
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? – Mark 8:36
My parents disciplined me often for my on field exploits. And because of their faithfulness and because of the Holy Spirit, I came to see that real life was not found on the Baseball diamond.
- Ask God to save. Ultimately, only those who the father calls will believe. As the saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink (even if everyone closes their eyes and bows their head and mutters something).” As parents, we can and should expose our kids to the beauty of Christ, but kids won’t embrace Jesus on their own. The Holy Spirit must open their eyes. Jesus says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” John 6:44). Pray for God to work.
Piper, J. (2003). Desiring God: Meditations of A Christian Hedonist. Sisters: Multnomah Publishers.
Platt, D. (2015). Counter Culture: a compassionate call to counter culture in a world of poverty, same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, immigration, persecution, abortion, orphans, and pornography. Carol Streem: Tyndale House.