Achievement with an Eye on the Saviour

 

I’ve been composing a post in my head for days, but I am just now at a point where I can put it to paper.    I intentionally got up a little early so that I’d have some time with my thoughts.   I thought to write another “Our World This Week” post, but the week went into a blur because of our son’s first dance competition—yes, it’s already that season again.    All week I spent hemming this, tacking that, and working to get all of my “big kid” grades out early so that we could enjoy Friday and Saturday without having to come home to late nights on the computer.    And when I say Friday, I mean all of Friday (including the 1-hour drive to the venue, feeding everyone on the opposite end of town, dancing and then waiting for awards), and ½ of Saturday.     I enjoy watching the kids express themselves in this way, but competitive dancing really does become an all-consuming task.    Thank God my son wasn’t a high schooler; their competitions were on Sunday!    I think it’s safe to say we were amongst the Babylonians.

 

Our son received a “high gold” honor for his performance, and then a trophy for beating out the other challengers in his age and dance style.     I thought this was an incredible feat, given that it was his first time performing solo.    To put this in perspective, it was the highest honor any one of the individuals/teams that came from our dance center received.   We were all so pleased and proud, and he was, too.   Yet, later my praise was put on halt as I sensed another spirit creeping in ever so cleverly: arrogance.    I reminded him that above the “high gold” honor is a platinum honor, and then a best overall score; neither of these were bestowed upon him this round.    I didn’t say this to squelch his enthusiasm, but I wanted to be sure that he continued to work hard and didn’t allow pride to actually harm his abilities.

 

Our whole dialogue led me to think about the danger of arrogance.    Paul encourages us to ‘not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you’ (Rom. 12:3).   Peter even tells us that ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’ (I Pet. 4:5).     One of the goals I’ve always had for our school is to instill self confidence in our children about who they are and whose they are.   As an aside, I think this is of critical importance for our African-American boys, whom society at large will instantly judge negatively, as if the mere fact of his skin color gives him criminal tendencies and limits his thinking ability.    I absolutely hate when people find out that he dances and immediately ask him a question along the order of, “Oh, do you know all those hip-hop moves?”    It bothers me that he’s not given the benefit of the doubt that he’s proficient at a different style.   I am convinced that if he were not black, those same inquiring minds would ask him the more appropriate question of what type of dance he performs.      Instead of rushing in with the attitude that mirrors what I’m thinking, I let him respond—another goal is speaking up for oneself.   In his quiet and respectful manner, he states very matter-of-factly, “No, I do ballet, tap, and jazz.”   I want to add, “and he’s also a grade ahead of himself in school,” but I’m sure I’d come off as insecure.

 

Anyway, I digress.   My point is that in our home, we teach God-confidence and self confidence.    Yet, we also strive to teach achievement with an eye on the Saviour.   Our God, in His wisdom, thought enough of us to caution us about forgetting Him, and when the world sheds it accolades upon us, it is so easy to get caught up in our own strengths.    Our spirits become unteachable, and a child with an unteachable spirit is as dangerous to himself as he is to others.    Without some level of humility, he becomes the employee who balks at every bit of constructive criticism and who has a problem at every review (and maybe even a problem holding a job).    Sadly enough, he might even become a pastor who, now with ultimate power and authority, leads a church according to his inabilities rather than relying on God abilities.    It is not in our strength, but in our weakness that He is made strong.    Why must the Lord take us through trials in life?    Perhaps because we’d never stay close to Him without them.

 

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope…(Romans 5:3-4)

 

I know that, personally, I’m far more intense in my prayer life when all is not well.       Sitting in the auditorium late on Friday night, I wanted so badly to see our son take a “Best Overall.”   Like any proud parent, I wanted everyone else to see what I’ve seen in him for all of his ten years.   Yet, some reflection has led me to believe that it’s better this way.   Peaking too early might have been his downfall.    I saw a recent article on Zac Efron (if you have kids who are into the High School Musical thing, you’d immediately recognize the name as the lead character, ‘Troy,’ in the movies), who is at this point in his career nothing short of a teenage heartthrob, with all the trimmings.    Countless articles speak of him as “young, rich, and famous,” but I find it sad that this young man has turned his back on his Jewish heritage and prides himself on being agnostic.    As long as success follows him, he’ll not need to rethink this decision; neither will a young athlete who becomes a millionaire at 23 and lifts up his abilities as the secret to his success.    Too often, it’s Mom and Grandmom, who’ve seen their share of hard times, who know how to call on the name of Jesus.    As for me and my house, I want our children to be at a place where they can constantly deflect attention away from themselves and lift up their Creator.   May our son be a mighty man, but may he also be a reflection of the Christ that is in him.

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9 thoughts on “Achievement with an Eye on the Saviour

  1. A very excellent post as always. I enjoy your introspection!

    An congrats to your son on doing so well!
    marie

  2. I agree that it's so easy to get caught up in the accolades of this world that we forget our number one purpose/calling in life. I hope your son will continue to succeed in dance and will reach his goal of "Best Overall". Yes, we need to aim high in all our endeavors. That is so important for us.

    I, too, want to teach my children God-esteem first and self-esteem second. I don't think I do a very good job of it though. I tend to focus more on the academics, the chores, and the legality of religion instead of the heart. With so many distractions in the day, I miss so many of the important things. I'm working on that though. I find it very difficult to teach them matters of the heart. By the way, do you ever doubt that one of your children is teachable in matters such as these?

    Thanks for another great post!Edited by karen0317 on Mar. 2, 2009 at 2:43 PM

  3. Well said. I think insecurity also breeds some of the attitudes too, so it is important that we try to instill that God-confidence in them. Unfortunately, I have one that, no matter what we have said or done, does not have that confidence in herself yet. God is not finished with her yet, though!
    Yes, the competitive dance world is a hectic place, and in our case, a Godless one. I was thankful when they stopped competing. I don't have the personality to handle it! : ) good for you that you can do that for you son!

  4. Congratulations to your son! Very thought provoking. I've been letting a story that "wants" to grow into a book/series stew in the back of my brain, which begins with the idea that it's essential to keep one's heart set on the right prizes. I've finally started working on it a bit lately. There's that definite fine line between relishing a success and going over the top and being puffed up by it.

    Blessings,
    Anne-Marie

  5. I think you must be such a deep Mom and person and your kids must really be given a real quality education they couldn't get elsewhere. I'm glad you are willing to walk among the "babylonians" (at dance competition) and be light in this world. It seems to me from your writing that you would possess a real outgoing personality, yet one deeply rooted in Christ. I envy people like that sometimes because it seems whenever I get into conversations with more than one person, I freeze up altogether or say something stupid. I think I would be one of those people, though, that would have asked your son if he did hip hop – but I don't think because he was black, but just because he was male. I suppose there is an unfair assumption in that too. Sometimes, though, it's just hard…we all make those kinds of assumptions of everyone all the time. In various ways we all fight an uphill battle against something in our life. I think that ties into your proper estimation of yourself thing. We aren't supposed to have a negative estimation of ourselves – just a well judged one and an estimation that includes a healthy dose of humility.

    Thanks for your comment on my blog. It's so encouraging to me. I so often hear what others are doing and want to change what I'm doing – I think just to fit in or to make sure I'm doing enough. But I think God's hand has been on this homeschooling thing and He has been directing me to do what comes naturally to me in my homeschool.

    I hope you have a great week and don't get too overly wiped out with dance.

    Cathy

  6. Thank you for sharing this. Congratulations to your son! That is a wonderful achievement. I really appreciate your thoughts on keeping kids grounded and your struggles as an African American mom. I think that your children, the African American community and the U.S. are very blessed that you are teaching your children to be good, faithful leaders.They will be excellent role models and good parents themselves. That's really the best we can do.

    Thank you for asking about our progress in math. Math is still a struggle. I can't afford to switch curriculums right now. We did put him back a grade level though in Singapore math. But, he's still struggling. Math takes us 8 hours a day. It's really just a matter of motivation and focus though. I think he finds these times working on math rewarding because he gets to spend time with me. I told him that if he can get math done in an hour, he can spend a whole hour with me doing anything he wants. It hasn't worked so far though. I did give him a test on brighted and he got all the questions right. In the fall, he didn't get any right. That's hopeful. Please pray for me that I can be more patient and help him through this. It's very frustrating for me.

    Have a great day!

    Chris

  7. Yes it seems there is always blog fodder bouncing around in my brain too. I'm glad you were able to get this down so we could read it.
    Congratulations to your son! It is amazing how emotionally involved we can get in these things. Obviously, he worked very hard and practiced practiced practiced. I think that's what makes me pray even harder and have more angst when watching my children perform, it's that wanting them to be encouraged and affirmed by the positive responses of others as well as having the knowledge of how hard they worked to get where they're at. No, I don't want them puffed up, but affirmed so that hopefully they will understand that it was hard work that got them where they're at. Sounds like your young man is doing a great job :-)!
    Sorry about the stereotyping. Although you as an African American have probably dealt with it all of your life, I'm sure you never get used to it and it must break your heart to know the children will also be confronted with it from time to time. We have no idea do we.
    I'm so glad you're here Belinda, wisdom is never something we can get too much of!
    Blessings to you and yours! Julie

  8. The crickets sound like fun! LOL! We have episodes of lady bug collections, grasshopper collections, and garden pest collections, but not in the fridge! I didn't realize crickets bit. My Grandmother always said they were good luck, and referred to them as "Rosenkrantz"…I cannot for the life of me recall what character or story that related to.

    My parents gave each of the kids magazine subscriptions for Christmas, and one of them, Muse, looks really interesting for science. 14 yo DD pulled up an interesting experiment on "extracting dna"…I haven't read it over yet, but it seemed pretty intriguing. Not sure about the specific page for the experiment, but the site is: http://www.musefanpage.com/

    She nabs the National Geographic as soon as it arrives, too.

    Blessings,
    Anne-Marie

  9. Oh how I miss you too. Seems I just can't seem to get back into a decent schedule to blog and do PT and watch Grandkids and… well you know.
    I do not hink your might man of valor will ever thik of himself more highly than he ought because He knows the standard of measurement is Jesus and you are doing a wonderfu job of reminding him of this and us as well!
    congratulations on a job well done to you both!
    ((((Very Big Bear Hug))))
    Because of Jesus, Bobbie

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