I Say Give Everyone a Participation Trophy

4:04 PMHeather

Right about now, our humanity is showing. We are divided and struggling. We are pointing fingers. We are so loudly declaring our own position that we cannot possibly hear one another.

But I have a thought on a solution.

I say give everyone a participation trophy.

 
 Image courtesy of Pixabay

Everyone.

Every last person.

Everyone who takes part.

That every one of us would be concerned about participating in the higher standard of grace and love that should mark followers of Jesus Christ.

That everyone of us would participate in teaching our children and modeling for them how to participate in humanity in the radical and scandalous manner that our Savior did when he walked the earth.

One of the most striking things about Jesus during his time on earth was that he was a safe harbor for and a healer of hurting people. For rich or poor, women and men, marginalized and needy, and all of us sinners. A precursor to becoming our Salvation, he connected with people, listening and loving and teaching. 

Right now, I believe that the Church would do well to remember how to participate in living out the Word of God.

That we would, every last one of us, take time to thoughtfully and prayerfully ask in complete surrender what we need to change about ourselves. How we need to change. What we need to hand over within our own hearts to allow the Lord to best shine through us.

That we would get still and quiet and fall face down before the Lord in earnest prayer, to participate in the call of the Psalmist when he said:

"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting," Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV).

That we would each prayerfully live out this Psalm, as well:
 
"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer," Psalm 19:14.

I want every last one of us to earn a participation trophy. 

When it comes to centering our homes and our lives around Jesus. 

When it comes to how we speak to each, all the live long day. How we interact on social media. How we talk about each other. 

May we each participate in kindness. In mercy. In being instruments of peace. In having a higher allegiance to the One who loved us to death than we do to any particular political party.

"May we therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience," (Colossians 3:12).

As parents, how about we switch some things up? How about we focus our energy on guiding our kids toward participation trophies in serving others, helping the needy, and bearing each other's burdens? 

What if we sought out excellence in raising our kids to sit with the kid who sits alone, to speak up for the ones who are mocked and bullied, to avoid gossip, and to walk with those who are wounded, like this story about Baylor students this last week? 

What if we cared more about our children's character and raising a generation who understands and lives out the gospel story than we care about academic achievements, athletic success, and recognition and awards?

What if we raised our kids to earn participation trophies in the rhythms of the gospel and seeking to be last rather than first? 

What if taught with our lives and our words how to "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others," (Philippians 2:3-4)?

What if we lived out a life radically marked by love and generosity and the grace that has been shown to us?

It's what our hurting world longs for and needs more than any other accolade we might earn. More than having our opinion heard. More than having our political views spoken and defended. 

That's what I mean when I say give everyone a participation trophy. 

Let's participate in actually boldly living out our higher calling as sons and daughters of God.

Let's rise up, people. Let's rise up and answer the call of Jesus who came to serve, rather than to be served.

They will know we are his by our love. The greatest of these is love. There is simply no room in the gospel story for perpetuating divisiveness. 

We are called to show respect and honor and civility toward others. To care more about commending Jesus to our children, our families, our friends, and to this world more than we care about earning commendations for ourselves.

Here's what we strive for... here is our reward. Our trophy. THIS is who we are. This is how we are participate in this thing called life, living here and now for a life yet to come:

"But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful," Luke 6:34.

That's what I'm striving for and hoping to live out. To participate in throwing all my gifts, talents, and time toward an invisible kingdom. To use it all up.

To finish empty.

That's the finish line. That's the trophy.

That's how everyone wins.

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