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Are You Ready for Success?

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

Ferris Bueller famously said “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  I think this is doubly true for parents and teachers as we guide and govern our children.  A reminder of this sped past me at 7 pm Monday night when my daughter said “Daddy, could you wake me up early in the morning?  I’d like to sit down with you and do my Bible study while you do yours.”  My initial reaction was to think of 3 or 4 reasons this was not going to work.  “Honey, you are going to be too tired,” I thought.  Then I thought to say “How many days of the week do you want to get up early?” (as I was thinking about how this would interrupt my morning running schedule).  The kid was really starting to cramp my style.  Then I wised up.

Wasn’t her comment (and the aim behind it) what I should have been striving for in my role as parent?  Wasn’t this the gold standard? I was trying to find so many ways around what was a bona fide success, that I missed the opportunity to bask in the glow.  I should have been saying to myself “Well done, my faithful servant.”  Instead, I was letting Satan creep in and steal glory.  This makes me think about how often we do this as teachers and as parents with the students God has entrusted us.

A lot of times we make life so complex and suck the pure joy out of it for our kids.  It happens when a child brings a report card home with mostly all A’s and one B or C.  We focus on the bad grade.  It happens on the ball field when we see our child on the bench or after a strikeout.  We fail to remember that the child was at practice, was healthy enough to play, enjoyed her time with her teammates, and is getting to do something they love.  We fail to remember that this is success when the alternative could be a child running with a dangerous crowd, with a health ailment that prohibits her from playing, or poverty so stark that play is not possible. As teachers, sometimes when a student shows a real passion for something in the educational process, we try to refocus them for balance.  Or we try to get them to color inside the lines instead of enthusiastically expressing themselves.  I myself have been guilty of teaching to a test when students were dying to go deeper into a topic with a great discussion.  Thinking I was being “a good teacher,” I pushed the students back to the mundane review or exercise we were doing in the name of “staying on task” when I might have let their imaginations run a bit more in the creative process.  It does beg the question in which phase is the learning greater?

Renown psychologist Dr. Kevin Elko (consultant to sports teams like Alabama Crimson Tide Football and to Fortune 500 Companies) reminds us to avoid “shoulding” ourselves.  We do this when we don’t enjoy what is.  Rather we make ourselves miserable with “what we think ‘should’ be.”  When we do this we miss life as it is buzzing by past our noses.

Tomorrow, I’m gonna wake up at 5:38 AM Central as a normally do when the dachshund next door daily proclaims his existence to the neighborhood.  When I do, I’m going to walk upstairs and gently nudge my sleeping princess and take her up on her desire to do her Bible study.  Here’s to hoping I can handle such wonderful, blessed success.

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