Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6)
No sooner had I sent my article to my editors than came the news flash that parents had jumped through some pretty expensive—not to mention, illegal—hoops to cheat their kids’ way into college. Coaches accepted bribes to add “athletes” to their rosters, “athletes” who never had played a day of the sport.
Meanwhile, teens who actually had dedicated their lives to the activity—and had much better grades– but could not afford the pay-out, were denied.
This morning, Dave, my husband, forwarded me an email he received from the Florida Marlins’ upper management. Motivational articles are sent daily to the coaches, and this one, written by Jon Gordon, compared success with excellence. His take? Stop comparing and start pursuing, advice these cheating parents and students probably wish they had heeded.
Dave has coached professional baseball for over 30 years, and more times than he can count he has counseled players who question why someone else is promoted when they are not.
I get it.
Actually, this is the week of spring training when players are told they don’t quite measure up and are released or are designated to the minor leagues. How does one not compare? Gordon calls it “a trap” and writes that it happens when we focus on someone else’s gifts, talents and purpose versus our own. He says our greatest competition is not someone else, but ourselves, advice Dave has given on multiple occasions.
Jack Nicklaus is one of Gordon’s examples. “He simply focused on playing the best he could play against the course he was playing. While others were competing against Jack, he was competing against the course and himself.”
The author then addresses Apple’s approach with the iPod, iPhone and iPad: “When they created these products they didn’t focus on the competition. Instead they focused on creating the best product they could create. As a result, rather than measuring themselves against others, they have become the measuring stick.”
Gordon ends his article with this: “We have a choice as individuals, organizations and teams. We can focus on success and spend our life looking around to see how our competition is doing or we can look straight ahead towards the vision of greatness we have for ourselves and our teams. We can look at competition as the standard or as an indicator of our progress towards our own higher standards. We can chase success or we can pursue excellence and focus 100% of our energy to become our best… and let success find us.”
The public shame accompanying the college cheating scandal has the potential to define the character of all involved. What a sad legacy! But what are we to learn from it?
Hopefully, a lesson in misplaced priorities. Hopefully, a lesson in entitlement. Hopefully, a lesson in envy. Hopefully…(the list is endless).
The all-too-common outcome of overbearing parenting would reverse if fathers and mothers used Proverbs 22:6 as their guiding principle. “Train up a child in the way he should go…” To understand that life can be tough. To be grateful for the gifts God has given him. To think of others before herself. To celebrate others’ blessings. To love God above all else.
Then again, perhaps it is the parents who need to learn these lessons first.