It was a very special day for my eight year old. She had competed in the AAU Georgia State Gymnastics Championship. She came away winning First Place State Champion on beam, Second Place State Champion on floor, and Third Place State Champion in All Around.
It was precious.
But as we moved through that last season, experiencing all the various successes and joys—and sometimes failures and sorrows—I really began to dig deep to understand why we were doing all these activities. What was their purpose in the lives of the children to whom God had entrusted me?
The Lord gave me wisdom as I pondered this more. The purpose was not to “be great” or to win or to be first. Though that seemed to be the focus of the parents with whom we interacted at these events (whether it was ballet, baseball, or gymnastics), this focus was not even close to where our hearts were centered. Throughout all of these extracurricular activities our family began to focus on bringing God pleasure and glory in all that we did. Whether it was hitting a baseball, writing a book, doing a cartwheel, or turning a pirouette, we were in it for Him. It’s a form of worship to use the gifts, talents, and abilities—the mind and body God gave us—for His joy and glory. It’s worship when we give Him the credit if success follows.
I sought to help my children understand it was not solely for their benefit that they were doing these activities. It was ultimately for Him because He gave them this special work—through the gifts, talents, and passions He developed in them—and it brings Him joy when they walk in that. It is His glory, His joy that we seek. We are worshiping God when we do the work He has given us to do, and it becomes an eternal work when our hearts are truly focused on Him.
I finally quit praying for my kids to win. I can’t tell you how many times I sat there, biting my nails and praying like crazy that my son would get a hit or pitch a perfect game, or that my ballerina would get the part she wanted in the Nutcracker, or that my gymnast would win first place. Then God showed me it’s not about them. It’s about Him. My prayers changed to praise that God is their God, that He has blessed them, that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that they are His children.
I began praying that they would simply bring Him glory. Whatever would bring God the most glory is what I prayed for. Amazingly, as I changed my heart in prayer, my attitude underwent a dramatic change. When they lost, I was not nearly as troubled or sorrowful. When they won, I was overjoyed, but not as relieved and overwhelmed as I had been before. It’s astonishing what this shift in focus did for my own heart as a parent. I was totally at peace, whether they won or lost.
Yet more than anything, it blessed my heart the most when I heard my children actually getting this. That’s when I began to really swell with excitement. When I saw them confiding their own personal prayers during an event, the purpose God had in all of this became clear: It was to reach their hearts, building their understanding of God and their dependence on Him. It was to help them grow in their walk as they learned to truly worship Him with their lives. Ultimately, it was to glorify God.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1
Read on for more about inspiring your children.
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