You might have seen the news story about the young man who was denied the bonus money in Final Jeopardy for misspelling the correct answer from several years ago. He wasn’t in the running to win the whole show, only for extra money. The uproar against host Alex Trebek and the show was… well, I should say “unbelievable,” but I’m afraid I’m was not shocked.
In a world where kids are given awards for “best art project for Spring” or “best writing of the letter ‘A’” is it any wonder that we have kids who cannot handle disappointment and defeat? This is why I’m not, nor have ever been, a fan of “everyone gets a trophy” in little league. From what I’ve been led to understand, the same is now true for school end-of-year award ceremonies. EVERYONE must receive at least one certificate or trophy regardless of the insignificance of the “accomplishment”; the former ‘build-their-little-egos’ go-to “participation” award no longer suffices.
Sadly, I’ve seen this world philosophy filter into our churches as well. Children’s ministry award nights have become ridiculous. One church actually gave out “perfect attendance” awards for MISSING ONE or fewer club meetings. How can we then stand and teach of God’s perfection when we have clearly redefined “perfection?” Kids are far smarter than we give them credit. They do understand when we say one thing and do another which leads to confused kids. They know when they receive an award that is phony and insignificant.
Disappointments come. Failures occur. Someone just may be better at something than you are. Learning how to deal with these things as a child only helps them be a stronger, less reliant-on-society adult.
I once misspelled a word on a Spanish test. Instead of a 100, I received a 98. The answer was correct, simply misspelled. A fellow student also misspelled the same answer, but received credit for it. (Their grade was not nearly as high.) I asked the teacher about it. Her thickly Cuban accented reply, “Melissa, you are such a good student. I expect better of you.” That made a HUGE impact on me… not negatively, but to encourage me to live a life striving for the best, not perfection, but of excellence. (Thank you, Mrs. Richardson, for the life lesson!!)
Proverbs 13:12, Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
The purpose of “everyone should receive an award so that they don’t feel bad about themselves” sounds like a good idea. But, it only sounds like it. Satan is the great liar. He takes God’s truth and twists it ever so slightly to appeal to our sinful nature… without our realizing or identifying it. That’s what he did to Eve; it is what he does today.
No one wants to lose, but an award for doing nothing or for a mediocre performance, over time, will be more demoralizing than learning to deal with the loss, disappointment, and failure at the time that it happens.
Instead, let’s focus on what the Bible teaches regarding accomplishments and the spirit of excellence.
- Remember to do all to the glory of God. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
- Work with a spirit of excellence in mind. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. Ecclesiastes 9:10
- Our reaction to disappointments and struggles is a testimony revealing our character. …7b there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10
- We must be faithful in little things in order to receive greater rewards. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Matthew 25:21
- The Lord uses our disappointments, losses, and failures to His glory. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
- Sometimes, God uses struggles to drive us closer to Him. 8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: 2 Corinthians 1:8-9
Teaching our children these lessons when disappointments, trials, losses, and struggles come during the training years will net us adult children ready to move forward into the world with a strong sense of Who God is, who they are in Him, and a willingness to trust Him in both the good times and the bad.
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