Monday, April 18, 2016

Accomplishments & Blessings

Last week, Benjamin went to state competitions for TSA (Technology Students Association). He was competing in software development and animatronics. On the morning that he was leaving, he paced around the house nervously. I tried to calm his anxiousness as best I could, including praying for him. At one point he said, "If I win, then you will be really proud of me."  

I then had to remind him, "Benjamin, I will be happy for you if you win because I know how many hours of work you put into your computer programming, but I'm proud of you no matter what. Neither my love for you nor my pride in you is based on accomplishments. I am proud of who you are not what you win."

It is important for any child to understand that love is not based on grades, awards, or recognitions. Too many parents are so focused on their children's "success" that their kids cannot separate winning trophies from earning their parents' love and attention. 

I am proud of Benjamin. He is a really smart kid, but that's not why. It's not that he makes good grades in school. It wasn't even that he came in first in software development and that he will now go to nationals for TSA. 

I love Benjamin and am proud of him because he's my son. Period. I am proud of the strong character he's developing. I'm proud that he is kind and compassionate. As I have always told him, "Your choices determine your character," and, overall, he's made wise choices. 

Benjamin's heard repeatedly that he will grow up to be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. I tell him, "Your material success does not matter nearly as much to me as your moral and spiritual success does." I'd rather he be a great husband and father than to turn out like Steve Jobs, who was neither. I want him to be humble and give God, not himself, the glory for all that he does in life. 

Yes, awards, recognition, and validation are nice to receive, but that should never be what he lives his life for, Often the right choice will get none of these things and may even cost you them. But I would rather he have an empty shelf than an empty heart and soul. 

Am I proud of Benjamin for winning at his competition? 

Yes, but I was proud of him before and would be even if he hadn't won. I am proud of him because of who he is and who he's becoming. My respect for him is not just in his talents, or his intelligence, but in his character, his faith, and in his love for others. 

I believe God has great plans for Benjamin's life and my job, as his father is to encourage him to seek God first and foremost. Wherever and however God leads Benjamin is what I want for him. I have no expectations on where he goes to college or the direction he takes. Instead, I pray that he is open to God's direction and that I will trust God enough to let Benjamin follow that path. Not an easy prayer to pray, but one that I do daily. I want my son to be who God wants him to be and to do what God places in his heart. I want him to do as Proverbs 16:3 tells him, "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."

When it's time for Benjamin to leave our house, he will do so with my blessing over him and his life. This is biblical. One that goes all the way from the Old Testament (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all offered blessings on their sons) to the New Testament where  God even does this over His own son's life, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased." Every child wants to hear their father tell them that. Christ needed to hear that because he went from this baptism experience to the desert where Satan immediately questioned Jesus' identity, "If you are the son of God then . . ." Before our sons go out into the world, we need to affirm who they are in Christ, as well as that we love and are proud of who they are and what they can become. This is critical to any child's identity and self-worth. I like what former NFL pro Bill Glass said in an interview with Christianity Today, "The blessing is unconditional and continuous. If it's conditional, it's not love: it's negotiation."

More than hearing me tell him, "Great job, son," I want Benjamin to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant" when he stands before the Father who loves him far more than I ever could. That is my ultimate goal as an earthly parent. 

I Corinthians 2:9 states, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

I cannot wait to see what God has prepared for Benjamin's life.

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