By Matthew Castro
Last week, something happened that should never happen. A disturbing brawl took place at, wait for it, a 7 year olds’ baseball game. Parents, who were upset with a , wait for it, 13 year old umpire’s performance, began to beat up the umpire during the 7 year olds’ baseball game. Jason Gay wrote about this event in the WSJ today, “Participation medals aren’t the problem. Adult over-seriousness is–and that’s a mentality that runs the gamut from yelling at umpires to locking a child on one sport at an early age.” Why do parents become so crazy about their kid’s sports?
I believe the issue centers on a love for mammon, or a better way to say it is successful kids. Most parents love their kids, but the desire to see their kids succeed has more to do with their own pride as parents. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21) Parents, whose seriousness about their kid’s sports leads them to get into a brawl, reveals the treasure of their heart.
The treasure of many parents today is being perceived as successful parents through the accomplishments of their kids. Some parents are hoping that sports will be the ticket for their child to popularity, college scholarships, or opportunities in society. This desire of the heart could lead parents to be drawn into a embarrassing brawl with a innocent 13 year old, because they want their kid to simply succeed.
The concerning thing is those who call themselves Christians fail in the same way. Some Christian parents have a tendency to trust in mammon (money, power, glory, etc) as the measure of their kid’s maturity and success, which they believe reflects on their parenting success. Jesus also said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). This leads some parents to sign their children up for activities like sports that rob them of church involvement. Too many parents will justify those decisions based on beliefs about commitment and necessary sacrifices for a desired future.
The issue with decisions by parents that cause them to spend their summer at tournaments and not at church is God doesn’t care if their kid is the next LeBron James or a Stanford graduate. Parents are not judged by God for the trophies and accomplishments of their kids. A parent’s job description has nothing to do with their kid’s report card or baseball stats. Moses wrote to the people of Israel, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deut. 6:6-7). Parents today including some Christian parents are teaching their kids to be over-serious and fight with fists if necessary for your right to personal success. God will judge them for their failures as parents, because they did not raise their children up on the word of God.
Jason Gray ends his article by providing some applications for parents, who fall into the over-serious parent syndrome. He points out we should allow our kids to fail by allowing them to try new things and learn to overcome mistakes and disappointments. He wrote, “I’m in no position to give anyone a parenting lesson–but I’m fairly certain that learning how to bounce back from failure is one of the most important takeaways a child can get from sports.” Kids need to learn that is okay to fail. Learning from mistakes is the path to maturity and growth. Sometimes in life you may have a unfair teacher, coach, or umpire. Kids must learn to manage and overcome difficulties. The only thing that kids need to learn is certain is God’s grace in Christ in the midst of failure and difficulties.
We all can learn from that lesson. Every parent must realize their own failures and need of grace. God provides grace through His son if you recognize your sin and trust in Christ. These parents, who embarrassed themselves and their families at the 7 year olds’ baseball game, need Christ’s grace. We all need the same measure of Christ’s grace. He lavishes his grace on all who seek it.
If you are a parent or will be a parent at some point, you have and will make mistakes. You may become over-serious with your kid’s education, extracurricular activities, and whatever else. You may fail to treasure God above how the world sees you as a parent. Recognize your failures and confess them to God. He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness in Christ. Then, pray that God would change you, so that He may be the treasure of your heart. Your children will then grow up loving Christ above mammon as well, and you would have succeeded to teach you kids the way of the Lord.