After a full season on the YMCA Bumblebees soccer team, my then-four-year-old daughter and her fellow teammates were no closer to making a goal than than the first day they stepped on the field.
During every practice, the coach cajoled, jumped up and down and nearly twisted himself into a pretzel to get the kids to understand the importance of kicking a black-and-white ball into a net.
The finer points of strategy and positions, however, were completely and utterly lost on fidgety, fickle four-year-olds.
So, each and every game, the Bumblebees would literally swarm after the ball in a buzzing, bewildered pack.
They’d fight their fellow teammates for the ball.
They’d get distracted by something more interesting on the sidelines and wander off the field.
They’d kick the ball toward the opposing goal.
To call what we were witnessing every Saturday a “sport” required a wildly imaginative definition of the word.
In parenting, I’ve noticed that we talk alot about setting goals for our children.
Make good grades. Go to college. Be a good person. Stay out of trouble.
All worthy aspirations. But recently, I’ve begun to think about goal-setting in a different way.
Here’s a few observations that I’ve made:
1.) We often have a skewed vision of success. Success isn’t necessarily making straight A’s or having the best record. Not all children fit into the boxes society creates for them. Recognizing our kids’ God-given talents and strengths and encouraging them to pursue them –even if they’re not the ones the world prizes — is vital. If they are content and fulfilled in who they are, that’s success.
2.) We encourage achievement over character. Grades are important, but not more important than attributes like honesty, integrity and compassion. We should encourage these traits above all else.
3.) We don’t give our kids a game plan. Like the Bumblebees, many kids know their goals, but they don’t know how to achieve them. It’s our job as parents to help them formulate, step-by-step, how to make their goals a reality. Otherwise, they’re called wishes.
Above all, my goal as a parent is for my children is to know their Creator. I can lead them to Him, but they have to take the steps to build a personal relationship with Him.
If they do, they’ll always be playing with purpose.
No dear brothers and sister, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)