Effort > Success

swim1He slapped at the water and flailed his way across the length of the pool. Kasen tried out for the Lake Jackson Swim Team back in May and didn’t make it. He just couldn’t breathe properly and struggled with swimming the required 25yd distance without a few dog paddles. It was the first time he didn’t immediately excel in a sport. He cried and didn’t understand why he didn’t make the team. He talked about quitting and giving up.

Miranda and I didn’t really mind the fact that he didn’t make it and I sort of thought, “Well, our summer won’t be consumed by swim meets.” However, when Kasen responded this way something inside me felt differently. I don’t want my kids to think it’s OK to just give up or quit when something is difficult. As a matter of fact, I really believe just the opposite. When something is hard and they have to work at it, I will be even more proud of them. Sometimes effort is more impressive than success. Success may be a result of effort, but the effort/struggle is what grows us and strengthens our character. I don’t want kids who are just successful. I want kids who know how to work and earn their success. Kids who understand that pushing themselves makes them stronger – makes them grow.

For the next 2 weeks, I drove Kasen to the pool every day after school. We hired another swim coach to work with him. (Thanks Andy!) We set goals and worked toward them. Some days went well. Others didn’t.

swim2After two weeks, he tried out again. He made the team. At the first meet in his very first race, he placed 1st in backstroke and got 1st place on his freestyle that day too! For the rest of the regular season, he was never beaten in backstroke. He didn’t have his best race, but still got 6th in the final State meet! For a kid who couldn’t swim the length of the pool only a few weeks earlier, I was really proud. Proud of his effort, not his success. Happy for success, but proud of effort.

Romans 5:3-4 – We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient.  And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.” – The Message

PRAYER:
LORD, May this lesson follow Kasen throughout his life. Help him to remember to persevere. Help me to be an example to him of a hard worker, and as a man who doesn’t give up on things that are important, even when they are hard. Give us strength (physical, mental, and spiritual) to endure. Help us to recognize your presence with us and teach us to trust in your strength when we don’t feel like we can go on.

PS – This is why everyone loves the movie, “Rudy.” He was admired by his teammates for his effort – not his success. They were willing to sit out and make sacrifices for him because he was such a hard worker.

The Hardest Question

Guest Post from Miranda:

It all started with Kasen asking me, “Who is your brother mommy?”

Mommy: Well Kasen, you know my brother – it’s Uncle Jared.

Kasen: Well who’s your mommy?

Mommy: Gigi.

Kasen: Who’s your daddy?

Mommy: Papa

Kasen: Who’s daddy’s mommy?

Mommy: Grandma.

And then I saw the lightbulb and Kasen said, “Mommy, where’s daddy’s daddy?”

It wasn’t “who?” that time, which was weird. This time he asked “where?” My breath was taken away and I was thinking, “How in the world do I answer this question.” I wasn’t prepared to answer this question. So I said, “Well Kasen, daddy’s daddy was sick and he’s not living anymore.”

Kasen: But mommy, where is he?

Mommy: He’s in heaven with Jesus.

Kasen: Jesus is not in heaven.

Mommy: Well where is he Kasen?

Kasen: He’s with God.

Mommy: Well where are they?

He looked up, and said, “Up in the sky. Up in the air somewhere.”

I thought to myself, “Thank heaven we’re off of that question.” but also thanked God for the opportunity to have that conversation. I also thought, “I wish I could have met him so I would have known what to say to Kasen.”

Mommy: Jesus is also here with us, and he’s in heaven with daddy’s daddy.

Kasen: And at Gigi and Papa’s house?

Mommy: Yes.


Message from Steve: I’m so grateful to have a bride like Miranda. She’s such a great mom! Although I wish I had been there for the moment that she shared with Kasen, I think she responded perfectly. She didn’t fumble all over herself trying to come up with an answer. She was able to tell him the truth in a way that he could understand and then got a bonus opportunity to talk a little about Jesus/heaven/etc. When Miranda told me this story, it brought tears to my eyes. I hate that my children will never know my dad, but the fact they know me, means they know much of who my dad was as well. I see him in the mirror more and more as I grow older.

Carry Your Cross Cartoon

This is a fun little cartoon that I received as an e-mail. It’s taken a few years to figure it out, but I finally know who the author is:

Dong Haeng – http://www.donghaeng.net/english/main.htmV

Luke 9:23; Matthew 16:24; and Mark 8:34 all tell of Jesus’ call for us to deny ourselves, carry our crosses, and follow Him. It’s too bad we want our crosses to be “light.” Matt Redman wrote a song (Way of the Cross on the album The Friendship and the Fear) with a lyric that says, “I’ve crafted myself a more comfortable cross.” Anyway, this cartoon reminded me of all of this stuff.

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Play

Everyone seems to agree there are fewer true leaders in the world today than in any other previous generation. I wonder why? Here’s my BIG thought: I wonder if the lack of leadership is somehow connected to the lack of “play” in the world? Let me explain.

It’s has always been a pet-peeve of mine that kids today don’t know how to play. They are good at wasting time with TV or video games, but “play” is a whole different thing. You’ve gotta be creative to play. You have to use your imagination to play. (By the way, in the Scriptures, the very first characteristic God chooses to reveal to us about Himself is His creativity. Then He says we’re made in His image.) Play revolves around creating stories and scenes and situations. You’ve gotta be willing to look foolish if you’re gonna “pretend” anything – and what is play without pretending something? Remember when you used to play hide-n-seek. I remember imagining that I was the good guy who was hiding from the dreaded evil enemy. I remember playing football and pretending to be the radio announcer as the game winning touchdown was scored.  My parents didn’t look down on me for those days. They didn’t think I was foolish. They laughed and enjoyed my creativity. They encouraged my imagination. They imagined with me. In play, we learned about the world. We began to understand how it worked. We developed deep friendships – in some ways they were probably deeper relationships than our current ones.

What if leaders began to “play” more? What if they imagined and weren’t afraid of looking foolish? What we created a culture of “play” where everyone was a part of it and no one really felt intimidated to join in on the fun? When we “play,” we don’t have to feel insecure, ’cause it’s just for fun anyway. If we taught our children to play more (by playing with them) would their generation have more leaders? I think it would.

If our leaders were allowed to imagine more, dream more, how many of us would dream with them? If they were allowed to “play” with stuff until they figured it out, what new innovations would we have?

In his book “Soul Tsunami,” Leonard Sweet says:

He (Jesus) displayed a genius for never growing up. He didn’t have much use for work. In fact he attracted his disciples by calling them from work: ‘Let others work, even bury their dead. You follow me.’ (Matthew 8:18-22)

Ask someone born before 1964, “What do you do?” and you will find out where they work, what their title is, what they “do” for a living. Ask someone born after 1964, “What do you do?” and you are as likely to find out that they dirt-bike, mountain-climb, net-surf, sea-kayak – in other words, they define themselves more by “life-first” than “work-first” commitments. . . .

If you want to make a violin sing, do you “work” at it? No, you “play” a violin. It takes a lot of “practice,” but the “practice” leads to “playing” the instrument. I want my marriage to sing. That’s why my wife and I don’t “work” at our marriage; we “play” at our marriage.  . . I don’t want the Scriptures to “work” in my life; I want them to “play” in my life.

Erwin McManus says:

People don’t get “burn out” from too much work, but from not enjoying their work.

Anyway, leaders should learn to play and play hard – not just when they’re away from the office, but even while they’re in it. Work should never really be work – it should be enjoyable – going to the office should be like entering the playground where you are free to express yourself (within the boundaries) and imagine and create and dream and get others to join you in it all. When you leave, you might have some dirt to clean off, but you’re still excited about coming back to play again the next day.

PS – I have watched children and on the playground, it’s the ones who imagine and dream and are willing to look foolish who end up leading the other kids. Leaders play. Players lead.