Baseball season is starting up and if you know me at all you know that I love the game of baseball. I came across an article on PBS’s blog talking about how as a parent you should be less involved in your kids life. I have to admit they got me with the title. We live in a day where the definition of good parenting is over-involvement in your kids lives until they are well into their 2o’s. So the combination of baseball and the encouragement of parents to be less involved I found too tempting to pass up.
The article was well worth the read. While I’d disagree with him on a few of his points and probably with how he applies them to make a point, the overall idea is something I agree with completely. In our desire to give a better life for our kids than we have, we remove any obstacles or opportunity for pain that helped us become who we are today. Ironically we protect them from the very things that will make them stronger adults. We solve their problems rather than give them the tools to learn to solve them for themselves.
Daniel Pink the well-known author of controversial books such as Drive, and A Whole New Mind. Pink has this to say about the dangers of parental over-involvement specifically in sports like baseball:
What few of us well-meaning parents realize, but that any professional athlete will tell you, is that when kids look to us on the sidelines for approval or consolation or even orange slices, part of them is distracted from what really counts, the mastery of something difficult, the obligations to teammates, the game itself.
– Daniel Pink –
Before I start this blog post let me be clear about a couple of things.
1. I am insanely jealous of Bible Belt weather this time of year.
2. I am not a big fan of children killing each other in the craziness we call egg hunts.
Why am I jealous of the Bible Belt this time of the year? Well, most often when it’s time to do an Easter egg hunt this is what it looks like outside our church. (No exaggeration as this photo was taken Easter 3 years ago)
We were looking for a way to do an Easter egg alternative and one of the women on our team Lori Buck came up with a brilliant idea. Do an Easter egg hunt indoors. I have to admit my chaos meter was going crazy. She began to explain her idea and it was brilliant.
Here is what it looks like.
1. Buy foam eggs online or at Hobby Lobby
2. Use “Blue Painters Tape” to tape said eggs to the wall.
3. Hide them in a specific room or all over your kids environment.
(Here is what it looked like taped to the wall)
4. Create a starting point and supply maps of the locations you want the kids to search for the eggs.
5. Provide the maps and pens
6. Do not allow kids to do this on their own – by forcing parents to help you create a shared experience with parent and child.
7. Have the parents and kids search for the eggs stuck to the walls once the egg is located circle the part on the map where the egg is located.
8. Once finished return the map for a prize. (We did a 3 tiered prize system based on how many eggs the kids found.) All the kids walked away with candy.
Here is what I loved about it.
1. It was FAR CALMER than any egg hunt I have ever been to.
2. Parents and kids did it together. Families were working together to find these eggs hidden all over the walls. Kids loved it and parents loved as much or more than their kids.
3. It was different, fun, orderly and just enough crazy to be fun.
4. Because we leveraged the parents we needed only a couple of volunteers.
We have done this event for 4 years now. Here are some of my thoughts. I love how it gives the parents the keys to the event. It’s not something the bring their kids to. It’s an event they all participate in. We do it on Palm Sunday to maximize attendance for two weeks, not just one. We invite everyone back for Easter services the following week. If the weather was better we may do the helicopter drop, but our poor weather forced us to create an event that pushes the family to do something fun together. This might be late for this year but try it out next year you might like it.
Everyone reading this post feels stressed out. We live in a fast pace culture. We wear stress as a badge of courage. If we are not busy or stressed we are not significant or important. I am no exception. I remember a good friend of mine once told me that your ability to handle stress will determine how far you go in life and how much money you will make. I agree. So how do we get better at handling stress? I believe you have to 1. Recognize it’s source 2. Embrace the solution.
What is the source of stress? We live in a fast paced world with lots of things going on it’s very easy for us to point at things that our outside of us as the source of our stress. I have found that in me and those I know well stress is an internal problem with exterior consequences. Stress most often is a result of me wanting something to much. I want to have it all. I want to be thought of as a good worker, I want to be seen as a good father, I want to feel like a good husband. Stress is most often the byproduct of my striving to be what I feel that I need to be so that I will be significant. If we all are honest it is often times the by product of me getting good things the wrong way. It’s me trying to earn what I feel that I deserve. Stress is the byproduct of our idolatrous hearts.
One of the expectations of being a pastor is that you always know what to say, when to say it and how it should be said. The is even more true when the person who you are ministering to is hurting. In nearly 20 years of pastoral ministry to the same church family I have learned that when someone is hurting all they need is for you to “Just show up.”
When I was younger I would avoid painful situations and people who were hurting because I was so afraid of saying the wrong thing. I was afraid what I would say would only push them further into despair. The older I got, and the more people I went to see, the more I realized how wrong I was. I was reminded of the power of showing up when I asked one of the kids who grew up in our churches kids ministry what he remembered most about kids church when he was younger. I would have guessed he would say “the fun events” or “the powerful services.” You know what he said? “You came to see me in the hospital and gave me a video game when I got my tonsils out.” He didn’t remember what I said, he remembered that I showed up. I didn’t even remember doing that, and the video game I got him was a soccer video game – he played baseball. I didn’t do or say everything just right but I showed up.
One of the most powerful illustrations of this truth is seen in C.S. Lewis story of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” Eustace a very frustrating boy who through the greediness of his own heart fell asleep on a treasure and was turned into a dragon. This caused tremendous amounts of pain and frustration for him and those who were traveling with him. Throughout the voyage a mouse named Reepicheep would call out Eustace when he would act selfish or unseemly, much to Eustace’s frustration. In this part of the story Eustace in the form of a dragon is in a deep despair as he feels that he will never be a boy again. Here is what Lewis says:
Given the current political season I thought I would share this prayer by our 16th president. A few years ago at a prayer breakfast one the persons at the prayer breakfast I attended read a proclamation by President Lincoln from 1863. It was such a moving declaration of our nations condition at that time and I believe of our present condition. It is a well-timed fresh reminder that our peace and security is not our doing by comes from God’s divine hand of providential grace. Lincoln says this line that is so profound and so powerful “in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”