The Olympics are in full swing, and Rio is taking our family, and possibly many of yours, by storm. Last night, we watched my friend’s niece on the uneven bars help take Gold, and “The Final Five” —as this group of girls has coined themselves—showed us all what it looks like to celebrate and win as part of a team. They are joyful and supportive, and all have unique backstories that represent God’s incredible creativity. While cheering on a different team to victory, I spotted one well-known athlete pointing repeatedly to himself with a look of overwhelming pride. Now, this guy has every single right to be proud—he has achieved something he has very rightfully earned. But his actions seemed to glorify himself as the sole reason he won. This got me to thinking: what can we teach our children about honing their God-given gifts and winning well?
- Everyone has a gift, and all gifts are given by God. Too many people think what they are good at is simply happenstance. But we were known before the foundation of the world, and we each have a unique calling on our lives.
- Everyone must practice humility so as to honor the Lord. When succeeding in ways the world notices, it can be easy to allow the applause to inflate our ego. Plenty of people unknowingly make idols of themselves and others.
- Everyone who wins works diligently to hone his or her skills. Nothing comes freely. All challenges are opportunities to push forward and press into who you are created to be. As simple as it sounds, nothing worth having comes easy. There is great joy when our labors are rewarded—this is an eternal lesson, as well.
- Everyone is of supreme value even when they don’t take home the Gold. I touched on it above, but no person, regardless of how one is seen in the eyes of the public, is of more importance than another. While some may appear to have everything going for them, if they don’t know Jesus, they have nothing. Keep this in mind if you or your children ever wrestle with feeling less than valuable.
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. (1 Peter 4:10, NLT)
As people begin recognizing what their gifts are, it opens up a beautiful journey of self-discovery that can draw them, and others, closer to God. Talents, when on display, can point others to Jesus. On the other hand, talents, when on display, can also point to self and lead others to make idols of mere people. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness, and sadly, as we excel at various things, it’s an easy line to cross. Teach your children when they win, they will reflect the Spirit or the flesh. And when watching others, remind them that they should celebrate, but that they should be careful not to worship.
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jeremiah 17:9, NLT)
Parents, I have to say this: there are far too many men and women wandering around as though they have nothing unique to offer. They are born. They live. They die. The hyphen on the tombstone goes down as nothing more than time—time that could have been embraced by offering all of themselves to God and displaying His grandeur to the world around them. Whether children are told to be practical and not to dream, or led into pursuing their parents’ dreams for them, they live contrary to all God dreamed up for them! Let’s not live vicariously through our children. Let’s not get wrapped up in what the world calls success. Let’s not falsely assume if you are on a stage, a field, or a screen that you are of greater worth than someone working in a cubicle, making deliveries, or baking goodies for a cake walk. If you are breathing, you are here to bring God glory and win well!
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31, NLT)
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and recently welcomed the arrival of their first little girl. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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