I’ve heard about people losing it at Little League, and yesterday I got to experience it first hand. My teenage son’s team consists of some difficult players: bad attitudes, talking back to coaches, arguing with parents, etc. But yesterday was the worst. The whole game was just plain tense, and not in a good “hey, we are in the championships” kind of way. Lots of errors and reactions to errors. Kids swearing and throwing batting helmets. Coaches yelling at kids to get out of the dugout if they can’t hold their composure.
Toward the end of the game, a Lead Player tries to rally his team with “Come on guys! We can still win this!” Another player angrily disagrees: “No, we can’t. We’ve lost.” Back and forth they go, when a yelling match ensues between Lead Player and Angry Kid. The game comes to a halt as we watch Angry Kid and Coach go at it. Coach finally tells him to get out of the dugout, and Angry Kid packs up his stuff, yelling all the way, “I’m leaving!” Shoving the gate open and slamming it shut, we all watch in silence as he marches off the field. An assistant coach goes after him (where were his parents today?). The game continues, but not minutes later, Angry Kid is back, walking into the dugout like nothing happened. Coach tries to talk with him, and Angry Kid puts his hand up in his face. The game ends in defeat. Awards are given out, and Angry Kid’s name is called with everyone else’s, like nothing ever happened. Angry Kid has just been rewarded for his bad behavior.
After the game, Jeff jokes with another dad, but he too, is angry, and throws Jeff’s hand off. “Come on man!” He is angry because his daughter didn’t get to play much and a kid who never comes to practice did.
I left with a heavy heart. People are so broken that it comes out in Little League. At the dinner table that night, our son gets lectured by Jeff because he never wants him to be that kid. That person in life who can’t control himself. Who’s true character comes out in stressful moments, and it’s UGLY. How do we raise our boys to be men of character?
And maybe that is what this moment is all about for us. Because my first reaction was to pull my son out of Little League. Who wants to be around people like that? But it was kids like Lead Player that stood out - the one who was encouraging to the other players, had a good attitude and good character throughout the season, was a leader. How do we teach our boys to become those people, lights in this dark dark world? As a parent, I confess, my first reaction is, “Get them out of the world! Protect them from this evil place!” When the very thing I need to do is throw them in - appropriately - to the places God has allowed opportunity and walk with them through it, coach them, teach them...
New International Version (NIV)
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
How can I ever teach my children how to live in the world if I am instead always removing them?
Dear God, may I please have the courage to walk with my sons through these dark places knowing You will lead us and teach us. I want them to grow up as men of God, having been mentored and influenced by Godly men and women more than by their peers. Help me to be a strong influence in their lives, especially in tough situations. I pray for my boys to be teachable in these moments and open to truth. Lord give us wisdom as parents to encourage and guide them. Instead of hiding our lights from the world, help us to step into it and shine brightly. The world desperately needs us to shine brightly, and we can only do that by walking into the middle of the darkness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Shine Your light so all can see it
Lift it up, 'cause the whole world needs it
Love has come, what joy to hear it
He has overcome
He has overcome
How do we Shine?
New International Version (NIV)
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
I thank God for a teachable moment for my son, and for us. Peace and Joy that Ethan is a good kid; respectful and well behaved in that moment/atmosphere of chaos and negativity. A light in a dark world.
How are you teaching your kids to shine?