Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Break ~ REWARD

Two words take us back to something most of us can identify with: PICKING TEAMS. Does it make your stomach hurt just to think of it? The uncertainty, the wait, the fear, the implications! I shudder to remember it, but I see myself standing on a playground at Laurel Ridge Elementary School, hoping I won't be last. I see myself in the gym at West Springfield High School, hoping to be selected. To be chosen was a great REWARD. To be last was to be REJECTED.

Last night we delivered snacks to a meeting of hundreds of young women on the nearby university campus. The gathering was hosted by Campus Crusade for Christ, reaching students during the critical years of searching in college life. Many young women came with their "Greek sisters," sorority girls. While at a university, many people see acceptance into a Greek organization as the ultimate reward. In high school, some kids try anything to be rewarded with a varsity letter, a spot on a team, or a place in an honor society. At all levels, even into the youngest years, kids strive for trophies that say they've succeeded. Sometimes we hold our breath in hopes of receiving a superlative like "Most Likely to Succeed" or Homecoming Princess. Especially in the US, but really all around the world, we want to be winners, to be "rewarded." The Bible has a lot to say about what we accomplish and who gets the credit, but I want to boil it down to a few simple truths that students need to hear.

Rewards can be the result of good motivations like hard work, dedication, or striving for a scholarship, but there's a fine line between working for a reward and seeing that reward, or lack of it, as our identity. To navigate the potential confusion and strengthen the spirits of our kids, we need to be sure they are confident in several key truths:

  • "the Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness." 1 Sam. 26:23 God WILL reward you for being what He values.
  • "run in such a way as to get the prize." 1 Cor. 9:24 You choose what reward you live for.
  • "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." 1 Cor. 9:25 Most people strive for rewards that are not lasting, but those who follow God strive for a reward that is eternal.

Sadly, during "Spring Break" and all throughout the year, many young people will sell themselves in hopes they will receive rewards of attention, respect, recognition, or love. They'll discover, instead, that a moment of weakness can lead to a lifetime of regret.

As we support, train, and provide for the young people in our lives, let's cheer the loudest for those things God loves, the fruit of His Spirit growing in us. And instead of just talking about getting "that" scholarship or winning "that" prize or getting chosen for "that" team, let's make it even more common that we weave into our conversation talk about the rewards awaiting those who live for the forever crowns! That's one team I am absolutely certain I want to be on.

Have you struggled with feeling the pressure of achieving Rewards as you were growing up? Or are you still striving, as an adult, to receive some earthly Reward that will make you feel like you're "good enough?"

1 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT: said...

Julie I love this reminder, "there's a fine line between working for a reward and seeing that reward, or lack of it, as our identity." So much of life is working toward a reward but if it becomes our identity it is absolutely dangerous. I know for me as a people pleaser my reward was being liked or making people happy with me. This connects with your previous post on pleasing. Both great issues for working with young people. I will be using these posts as resources for sure you have touched on some issues that I certainly get passionate about! Thank you for your thoughts.