Tell me about the kid who won everything tonight.
We were driving home from my son’s school awards assembly. He was still wearing the honor roll medal around his neck, but it didn’t hide the slight slump of his shoulders.
We don’t reward for awards in our house. We definitely acknowledge achievements, but they aren’t a goal. Do your best has been our mantra for as long as I can remember. And if your best is a big fat C, that’s okay. And occasionally, it’s been my kids walking across the stage decorated with awards (This isn’t about bashing those who work hard–keep reading).
But the kid who had a familiar name was the same boy who had made the last few months of school difficult for another kid.
I got a glimpse into what teachers and award-givers can’t always see: my son had come behind one bent on popularity and achievement and quietly encouraged one left reeling in his wake.
We are raising kids in the age of awards–it’s the trophy generation. There’s one for everything these days. You’ve probably sat through hundreds of names being called out, too. I think awarding excellence is great because it encourages more excellence. But it gets tricky when we award everyone for participating so no one will feel left out. What are we encouraging exactly? Show up, you win!
Awards are hardly a new thing–In high school, the only award I cherished was the Rhinestone Jesus Napkin Award (which was really a way for my Drama Club to mock my faith in a funny way. It didn’t embarrass me, I was proud they noticed). It felt more like a reward than an award.
Life isn’t fair, we all get that and we watch our kids learn it early these days. But doing the right thing is still the right thing and I reminded my son that earthly awards have nothing to do with heavenly ones.
I’ve been thinking about heaven a lot lately. Normally when I think about eternity, it’s during a worship service or when I’m completely overwhelmed. And then it’s more of a “take me out of here, Jesus” thought. Spiritual, I know.
But my heavenly thoughts stemmed from a conversation I’d had with my son the week before when he asked me what we would be doing “up there” for eons and eons. I’m pretty sure he was imagining the same chorus of Amazing Grace for a thousand years and feeling a little unsure.
I was in the middle of reading a little gem of a book called The Treasure Principle and I told him some of the things I’d read–we would work and lead and worship and we would be rewarded for how we lived on earth. We talked about how everything we do here effects us in the afterlife–good and bad.
Every kingdom work, whether publicly performed or privately endeavored, partakes of the kingdom’s imperishable character. Every honest intention, every stumbling word of witness, every resistance of temptation, every motion of repentance, every gesture of concern, every routine engagement, every motion of worship, every struggle towards obedience, every mumbled prayer, everything, literally, which flows out of our faith-relationship with the Ever-Living One, will find its place in the ever-living heavenly order which will dawn at his coming.” -Randy Alcorn, Heaven
As I drove my son through Chick Fil A for a sweet tea ( my kind of reward), I reminded him of our conversation about heaven. “What you’re doing now, how you’re living and loving and leading, the way you seek out the kid left out and left behind–this is worth a reward. The medal kind given out tonight will rust and end up in a box in the attic, but the kind you’re storing up in Heaven-this kind will last forever.”
Our culture doesn’t always value the good guys who are quietly making the right decisions, rooting for the underdog, loving and serving the least of these.
But that’s okay. Because Someone is taking account.
And one day, instead of gold around our neck, it will be under our feet.