Through the years my children have been a part of numerous sports teams and it has usually been a wonderful experience. But anytime you compete in sports there are going to be some down moments. There are games when they make the turnover, miss the tackle, drop the ball, get the penalty and end with a disappointing defeat. Through the years there have been tears, anger and unspeakable disappointments to go along with every moment of joy and victory.
Every time I find myself in this situation I try to do several things.
1. Recognize Their Effort. Giving your best effort is not the same as being the best.
2. Affirm My Love. Personally, I do not care whether they win or lose. I believe they need to hear that. All of us need unconditional love.
3. Instruct Them. I have tried to reduce the amount of this I say through the years. Most of the time, they know what they did wrong and what they should do right. I know that I still give too much instruction, but I do want them to learn from their mistakes.
4. Remind Them of God’s Love. Everyone’s life has infinite value and worth whether they are a great success or failure. All of us need to be reminded of that regularly. I especially remind my children that God loves and cares for them no matter what happens in sports. All failure is a place for God’s grace.
5. Help Them to See the Big Picture. Honestly, very few children will receive scholarships. All of the champions will be forgotten (especially in Jr High and elementary school). Sports are a simple activity to have fun, get exercise, and enjoy time with their friends. Enjoy the moment and let God direct your life. Often God directs our life through failure as much as success, if we let Him.
So far, by the grace of God, my children have not had any major failures in life, but I am planning on using the same approach when that happens. And it will happen, I know that. What we say and do in those moments of failure help shape the lives of the next generation. I do not enter into them lightly or without thought and I hope you will not either.