Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Champions are Not Just Athletes

by Sandy Jackson

I have sat at probably 124,516 ball games watching my precious nieces, dear friends' kids, and my own competitive boys battle it out on the field with a ball and glove. I love the game of baseball. I'll even watch complete strangers play the sport. I had no idea what the future would hold when Nicholas, now 17, read the Sundown Little League sign-up poster at the age of four. You see, it was almost every day after that for a full year that he asked, “Is it time for me to play ball?” Matthew was right behind him, not satisfied with being a spectator at his brother's games; at five he signed up to take his place on the field. 

Fast forward a few years with moving up through the different levels—hitting off a tee, to coach pitch, and finally to kid pitch. There were tough losses, close wins, exciting championships, and lots of hot dogs eaten along the way. It was this past year that the term "champion" took on a new meaning for our family. I am not referring to the "major league" throws that our youngest son, Matthew, threw from third to first to make the close out plays. And I am not alluding to the thrilling state championship for which Nicholas had the privilege to pitch and cheer his teammates on for the win. These young men started down the walk of champions when they obeyed our Lord by being immersed in baptism last summer and the new beginning of this year. 

I would like to share with you from the very words of our Creator why being a champion for him is the most important accomplishment our children can achieve, and how we as parents can enjoy the win with them in the end. 

1.  Our kids need faithful coaches. They need to see us living the Christian life 24/7. Will we make the wrong calls from time to time? You betcha! But our children need to hear our prayers of repentance and see us striving to do better every day. 

2.  Our kids need to KNOW God. This only comes by knowing His playbook, the Holy Bible.  May we look to the psalmist as an example to instill the precious truths of God and his promises in our children's hearts, so they will possess the strategies for defeating Satan, their most vicious opponent (119:7.) Our influence, as powerful as it is, will only stand on the foundation that we have built for those little souls. There is no substitute for reading, talking about, and practicing every day the game plan laid out for us by the "Divine Planner." Let's not just be spectators of Christianity. 

3.  Our kids need to be trained to be team players. Young people need to be taught to look for opportunities to stretch out a hand, helping a fellow player up when she has fallen or going through a slump. 1 Peter 4:10-11 reminds us when we serve those around us not only is our team built up, but ultimately God is glorified in our doing good toward others. Kids are valuable to the kingdom no matter what age they are; we need to remind them of this and help them cultivate their talents to serve the church and their neighbors. 

4.  Our kids need guidance in choosing good companions. They will become like those they spend the most time with. Supervise your child and who he is hanging around with. Supervision requires your active attention!  The book of Proverbs is packed with valuable counsel for choosing friends. “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:9). The desire to be a champion is contagious. May our children be godly examples before others (Titus 2:7), yet always looking for righteous role models to emulate. 

Let us cheer our children on to look to their Father as their head coach with the prize of heaven ever before them. And may they long for the eternal reward of living a faithful Christian life, more than the temporary shiny trophies of this earthly abode. 

Recommended Reading

Jackson, Jason. Building Character Before the Concrete Sets. 
Jackson, Wayne. Joel 1:3 — Parental Responsibility.