Here is part 2 of 2 Skating the Skate, Running the Race.
In my last post I wrote about the disappointing loss in the final event of men’s figure skating in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Jeremy Abbot had won it before, in fact, he had won that event three times. He has what it takes. That particular four minutes of skating, however, was not his time. Those awards are given not by what one has accomplished before; those awards go to that tiny piece of time. Can you imagine the pressure?
The support of the spectators is enormously important during the performance. Many skaters are also entertainers. They like the crowd to cheer, clap, shout, whistle, and even give cries of despair. Athletes of all kinds feed on the applause of the crowd. It makes it worth the time, sweat, agony, and money they have poured into training hours when no one was watching. The crowd gives encouragement, which in turn, gives energy and inner resolve to the performer.
The race of life is no different. Positive remarks, for instance, give a pastor courage and resolve to stay on task. The congregation needs to understand how much it helps when we drop a card in the mail or leave it on the pastor’s desk that says, “Pastor, I pray for you.” The pastor’s wife enjoys a tray of cookies for the family. Those little gestures mean so much and happen so seldom.
So, now what? Whether you are watching a teenager in a wrestling tournament, listening to a grandchild at a music recital or listening to your young child recite AWANA verses, please be a good audience. Give them your undivided attention. If they miss a note, get two words mixed up in a verse, or don’t get the pin, cheer them on anyhow.
Jesus, our Good Shepherd, used positive reinforcement with his disciples who often failed. Notice in the three parables of the lost things that Jesus never refers to any brow-beating reproach. No, the reward was in the finding and in the finding there was rejoicing. Let’s do the same.