spectator vs participant

So now that I have two boys the question for most dads becomes, when are you going to get them involved in sports? When are you going to start t-ball and soccer and football and basketball and… And my honest response is, ‘I am not sure I am going to; at least not for a while’. Gasp! But I think about it like this. I only have so much time with my sons. And granted, I could be there coach and maybe that would work out (probably not with the schedule of a youth pastor). But why would I want to trust my sons’ training to a “professional” when this is something that we could enjoy in the backyard in the evenings and weekend afternoons? I hear stories all the time about parents running like chickens with their heads cut off trying to get their sons and daughters to competitions to “better them” and it honestly just scares me. Instead of being participants in the training up of our children we have become spectators in the stands and we have bought into a culture of consumerism in raising our children.

We all know Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The problem is we have lost the means. The word for train in Hebrew is chanak and it implies action/involvement in the part of the one training up the trainee. As this is addressed to parents, it would be safe to assume that there is culpability placed upon the parent for being the one who is active in training up the child. The problem is that we trust all of the training to people who are not the parents. Think about it…we send our children to schools, then ball practice, then youth group, then music lessons, then dance lessons, then hobby clubs, then etc. And please hear me, none of these things are bad. But where is your involvement in training up your child. Per Pastor Mike’s message yesterday, ‘what are your children catching from you’.Have these institutions just become a service that we buy into versus a means of us partnering in raising up our children?

Rather than enroll my sons in T-ball, wouldn’t it be a lot more fun to teach them the game in the backyard myself? And then maybe they could round up some boys in the neighborhood and (this is a stretch) but play a pick-up game. Then all of a sudden I am an active participant in the life of my child and enabling them to develop not only their athletic skills (they will probably be a lot better than me one day), but also their ability to set rules, play the game, settle disputes, and relate socially and all of this without the help of an outsider/coach/professional. Then I am not sitting in the stands so much as looking out the window as my sons put into practice what we learned together.

Will my boys play organized sports…more than likely. It just won’t be tomorrow. Right now there is a lot of stuff I need to brush up on so I can be their dad.

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