Focusing on the Right Goal (I’m talking to you, sideline parents)

It’s that time again, when we parents get to drag our camp chairs to the sidelines and cheer on our future professional hopefuls in various sports. A few weeks ago I got a taste of this again when I spent 2 hours in the rain with a 104 heat index (thanks Orlando) watched our daughter play an end-of-soccer-camp scrimmage. Based on the reactions of people around me, though, I might have thought I was at the World Cup finals and there were endorsement deals riding on the outcome of the game.

Friends, we have got to take it down a notch.

As we enter another season of sports, can we all just keep a little perspective?

We were not put on this earth to play sports. We are here to learn how to navigate the world with confidence, grace, and character. We are meant to learn how to live as loved people, and to love others well.

The vast majority of kids will not play sports beyond high school, even middle school. They are going to be doctors and salespeople and teachers and baristas and parents and a host of other roles. They are meant to discover their gifts and talents, most of which will not be sports related, and to use them to His glory.

Our job as parents is to help them become these loved, confident, grace-filled, gift-sharing people of character.

So the one question we should be asking ourselves is:

Do my actions and words in watching this game reflect that goal?

If that’s our goal, then we will celebrate who they are more than what they do. We will praise teamwork and good efforts. We will point out how we are proud of their attitude more than their skills. We will build them up with our words. We will refrain from blame and criticism. We will catch them with grace when they fail. We will help them see how what they are learning through playing this sport translates to living bravely in the world. We will remind them, afterward, that is it just a game, and there’s a whole big other world out there.

Let’s keep the big picture in mind, fellow sideline parents. There’s a goal we’re aiming for and it’s not the one on the field.

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