by Adam Kronberger / Superintendent
Many parents spend countless hours attending athletic events for their children at rain-soaked playing fields and crowded basketball gyms. When first starting out, participating in sports introduces children to new friends and new experiences, challenging them to mature in many areas. When children are very young, many sports do not even keep score as simple participation and enjoyment are the clear goals. For example, the Upward organization waits until 3rd grade to begin keeping score for basketball games (though most children are keeping score well before then).
At the heart of competition is keeping score. Without a score, there is no opportunity to declare a winner or determine which performance was better. The benefits of competition are vast. Children can learn how to set goals and create plans in order to meet those goals, eventually building confidence. Humility can be developed through both winning and losing. Perhaps most importantly, competition provides constant opportunity to reflect on both physical and mental abilities and provide motivation to train to become your best.
As children begin to pay more attention to the score, sometimes instead of learning to give their best they can instead give less than their best. When losing, children can become easily discouraged and give up or deviate from their training. When winning, children can begin to cruise and just do enough to stay ahead. Instead of competition motivating their best, it can instead be a trap for a defeated attitude or one that settles for average.
Appealing to our competitive nature, Jesus writes, “Be perfect, therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Jesus sets the ultimate standard for our daily behavior. Yet He knew that true perfection comparable to the holiness of God world only come through His own saving grace at the work at the cross. But through His sacrifice, Jesus calls us to be mature and complete just like our Heavenly Father. On our own, when we compare our righteousness against the Holiness of God, we will always be found wanting. We can become easily discouraged just like a child who believes they should win every single game they play for their entire lives. We also can’t simply give up and stop trying, like an immature child whose team gets behind on the scoreboard.
We are most mature and most complete we we compete to give our best in every area of our lives. As parents, spouses, employees, children, and neighbors, Jesus is calling us to reflect Him to others. That is His definition of victory. The best coaches don’t use the scoreboard as the only means of motivation, but sparks the players’ internal drive to become their best. In the same way, as a community of parents and students, may we strive for maturity, completeness, and grace-filled perfection in our lives and the lives of our children.
– Adam Kronberger / Superintendent