Earlier this week, Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker James Harrison did something that has created quite a stir on social media. He stripped his kids of all non-winning participation trophies, saying he wants them to EARN a real trophy. He said,
On the one hand, I do get it. Both my kids have quite a few participation trophies sitting on their shelves that don't mean all that much to them frankly. Moreover, entitlement is not a quality I want to inspire within them.
We do live in a dog-eat-dog world. Competition is the foundation of so much we do. It really begins in school and on the athletic field and then it really takes hold once we enter the job market. So we want our children to be prepared. Work hard. Earn it. Get what you deserve. Otherwise, you could easily be left behind. That is what justice is all about. That is what our world is about.
But on the other hand, I'm not sure that a dog-eat-dog world is a value that our
faith lifts up. Sure we want justice in life. We want our fair share. Yet, too much competitive fire can of course lead to burnout and shame, especially if one lives by the motto, if you're not first, you're last. I do wonder if James Harrison's sons will grow up to be productive, healthy contributors to society, or if they will need a lifetime of therapy because they never won a gold medal or became an NFL
all-pro linebacker and measured up to their father's expectations.
On a deeper, spiritual level, I think what we really want and need is not justice, but very simply grace. We live by grace. We are saved by grace. We don't get what we deserve-separation from God. We get grace, the greatest gift of all, the promise of God's presence forever.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. -Ephesians 2:8-10
Prayer for Today
Thank you, God, that we are saved by grace and not by anything we do. Amen.