I will probably make some people mad with this post. I probably would have been one about 10 years ago, but this is a blog, right? So, I get to share my opinions, thoughts and what I’ve learned through the years, right? 🙂 Well here goes.
I believe we have made two really pretty “golden calf” idols of two fairly innocent things: sports and academics.
Many families in America are very active in sports. Obviously sports are very important to us in our nation, because we value our top athletes so much that we pay them exorbitant and excessively high salaries as professionals. I was very involved in sports as a child and I really enjoyed basketball in particular. I am 6’6” tall so basketball was a sensible choice. But, I really regret the amount of time I wasted just playing basketball. I was out of balance. I was spending inordinate amounts of time playing basketball in comparison to other endeavors in my life.
I often see the same thing happening in many homes. The schedule for the home is dictated by the season of
year. I am not talking about winter, spring, summer or fall; I’m talking about the sports season. We have to look on the refrigerator at the schedule to see if we can do anything. Many families are involved in weekend sports with teams that travel many weekends throughout the year. Many dads have come to me and said, “Pastor Kevin, you won’t be seeing us much for the next several months because my son or daughter has travel ball, you know. But we’ll see you soon.” It is interesting to notice how many of these dads take such an interest in their children’s success on a ball field or court.
I’ve heard the stories, and you have too, where the wife goes to the back door of the home and yells out to her
husband and son to come in for dinner. For example, they have been practicing pitching a baseball. The dad yells back, “Be there in a minute! He’s almost got his curve ball breaking over the plate perfectly!” Is there anything wrong with this scenario? Absolutely not. It’s wonderful to have a father who is engaged in his son’s or daughter’s life. But, what if this scene takes place most nights of the week? This backyard practice doesn’t include the practicing after school or the games. It is in addition to the team practices and games. Once we
add up all the time and energy, there is a huge investment here. Have you heard of this scenario happening before? A wife yells up the stairs to her husband and son to come to dinner and the husband yells back, “Be down in a minute! We are almost finished memorizing this passage of Scripture!” Ever heard of that
happening? Maybe it has, but probably not nearly as often as the first scenario.
We are sports obsessed in this nation. It is amazing how much we put a premium on those who are good at
sports. I’m not against sports. I love sports. I love playing sports of all kinds and attending games. I played in high school and in college. All of my coaches made high demands of me.
Any coach or instructor is going to push athletes to get the most out of them. This is expected. Parents often tell me about their children and their commitments to their coaches and teams. In the same breath they tell me because of the upcoming game they can’t keep their commitment to the church. Seems like a double standard.
Sports activities are not the only obsessions we have turned into gods in many of our homes. I truly believe many are worshipping the god called academic success. This god is on display in all circles of academia, including public, private, charter, Christian or schools within the home. Parents love speaking about how well their children are doing in school. There is certainly nothing wrong with academic success. I graduated at the top of my class in high school and in college. But, we must remember the words of the Apostle John when he
said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). Can we say that? Does our desire for academic or athletic success for our children eclipse this standard written by John? God does not have a room in heaven for our children’s diplomas and trophies. I can hear the words of the 12-year-old Jesus. Can you hear them? He said, “Didn’t you know I had to be about…” What? What did He have to be about? His “Father’s business.” That’s the goal is it not? If we are raising Christian children…shouldn’t they seek to be about His business? What about our children? What or whose business are they about?
We push our children academically and athletically. We want them to be the best they can possibly be in these
areas. But what about spiritually—do we push them spiritually? Somehow, we have tied our children’s success, and in many cases, their identity, to how well they perform on the field, dance floor, court or classroom. We push them to get scholarships and get high grades in school. Then what? They graduate with a degree and get a job and start making money. Does that bring happiness and fulfillment? Jesus said we should seek the kingdom of God first and then everything else we need will be added to us (See Matthew 6:33). We might say we believe this for our children and we may even tell them that, but what do our actions show? Many seem to be seeking first the kingdom of education and sports. Some families make their kids do homework during church services of all things. Homework should be done, but there is a time for it. Shouldn’t God come first, even above homework? Some miss church because they have to study for the big test the next day or practice for the big game later in the week. Why should we be dismayed or astounded when they go to college and
have no desire to go to church? Our actions have spoken loudly to our children while growing up. Now they are placing other things before God, just like we did.
We must count the cost. We really cannot have it all. We may have to choose. Do we want our children to make
straight-A’s or take some time to learn the Word of God and make B’s? Would we be willing for our children not to be on the travel team, even though they may be good enough, so they can be in church and have time to be at home for more spiritual training?
There is a cost and a huge price to be paid if you desire to have a Godly home. It is so easy to get tangled up in living vicariously through the successes of our children, especially if they can do things we were unable to do as a child. It is not an all or nothing proposition. We must find a balance for sure. But, choose wisely and remember, whatever it is that we make our children crave is what they will desire for the rest of their lives. If we were to ask our children about their goals in life, what would be their response? What would their answers reveal? Whatever we do in moderation, they will take to excess.
What do they crave? What kind of legacy are we passing down to our children? Is it the American Dream, or a Christ-honoring life? Is a little Jesus here and a little Jesus there good enough? I don’t think so. I pray we will acknowledge Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords of our families. May God help us to do so.