Putting others ahead of our own desires
I loved watching the Olympics every night this summer! It was such fun to see Team USA excel and give tribute to our country and often to God. While there are tons of healthy by-products of kids being involved in sports, there’s a slight problem I have with the potential for imbalance…and an egocentric focus.
With all the Olympic hype, more than likely, this next generation of kids will be concentrating on becoming world-class athletes. Parents will be encouraging, pushing, coaxing, and probably demanding performance from their unsuspecting offspring. Can’t you see gyms, swimming pools, and tracks becoming even more popular places for afternoon activities? We justify all of this by saying that it keeps our kids out of trouble…and there’s definitely truth in that.
But here’s where the over emphasis on super achievement in sports goes off the road. It’s all self-centered and self-promoting. Where’s the push for finding ways to be involved in volunteering our time helping the poor, serving those with special needs, or visiting the elderly? Sure, there are summer missions trips and community service hours that schools require, but it’s often more of an after thought than a priority.
My 9-year old grandson Charlie spent 4 hours a few Saturday’s ago in a Buddy Break program ministering to special needs children. To be honest, it would have been lots more fun for to go on a bike ride, swim, or play with the kids in the neighborhood. But Charlie chose to serve. His parents want him to see others as more important than himself…not an easy thing to do when we’re born with a selfish nature. There are tons of Saturdays ahead for Charlie to play ball and participate in soccer, tennis, baseball and basketball. But one Saturday a month, Charlie will be learning how to help an autistic child put a puzzle together or love on a non-verbal, non-ambulatory child with cerebral palsy. He’s learning empathy and compassion. He’s learning to put others ahead of his own desires.
I don’t know if Charlie will ever become an Olympic athlete. I do know that he’s developing life skills that will honor God and propel him to success in the real world that we are called to live in if he learns how to serve and care about others. But hey, I’m not above setting up swimming lessons for Charlie. Who knows…a little swimming, a little serving, a little gold…??? Balance is key. Meanwhile, Congrats Team USA! And go Charlie! You’re already a gold medalist in my book.