Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
Recently, as we were flipping through radio stations in the car, my 6-year-old daughter heard the song “We Are the Champions” by Queen. She asked what a champion is, and we started talking about winning and losing. At one point in the conversation she said, “Winning isn’t fair because not everyone can do it.” Her response is, sadly, quite common. (Read the rest of what he has to say about the idea that “everyone is a winner.”)
In contrast, there are cultures where life’s primary impetus or “encouragement” is shame. In such a culture, this would be true for children in school, for spouses toward each other, for employers toward employees. It would be true in every arena.
But let’s just stay in the child-rearing part of life’s arena, since that’s what Barnabas is focusing on. To give you an idea of what I mean when I name shame as prime motivator, here’s what one Chinese mother says:
The fact is that Chinese parents can do things that would seem unimaginable—even legally actionable—to Westerners. Chinese mothers can say to their daughters, “Hey fatty—lose some weight.” By contrast, Western parents have to tiptoe around the issue, talking in terms of “health” and never ever mentioning the f-word, and their kids still end up in therapy for eating disorders and negative self-image. . . .
Chinese parents can order their kids to get straight As. Western parents can only ask their kids to try their best. Chinese parents can say, “You’re lazy. All your classmates are getting ahead of you.” By contrast, Western parents have to struggle with their own conflicted feelings about achievement, and try to persuade themselves that they’re not disappointed about how their kids turned out.
So, there are the two precipices to avoid:
1. Everyone is a winner.
2. You are nothing, because someone else is performing better than you.
That mesa is not even the right place to be maneuvering, trying to stay somewhere between the two treacherous precipices.
What do I want to say instead to a child I love or on whose upbringing I have some influence? I think of many things, but here’s one way to say it.
“The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable” (Is. 40:28).
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
Your God, your Creator, your Father loves you and knows you better than anyone else can ever know you. He wants you to be blessed, happy. He also knows what he wants you to achieve, and he offers you magnificent, out-of-this-world rewards. His desires for you?
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven . . . . (Matt. 5:3-12)
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