CHEER THEM ON!
Recently, I attended my grandson’s flag football game. My son coaches the team and gets to be on the field with the team calling their plays. My grandson is the quarterback. I have to admit it gets my blood pumping watching him throw touchdown pass after touchdown pass, or making an interception, or running a guy down on defense to keep him from scoring. I am yelling and cheering from the sidelines, calling out encouragement, or calling out his name yelling, “That was pro!” I got so enthused and cheered so much that a few times a lady there, gave me her glaring stare, then made some snide remark. One of the benefits of being old is, I could care less. Lady, get a life!
As I watched the game, I made this observation. Almost all the parents attending, or the grandparents who came, were staring at their phones or socializing with each other during the game, or simply passively sitting by as if nothing was going on. They weren’t even paying attention! They don’t see the strategies unfold, or the execution of the plays. They don’t cheer on encouragement, or praise their kid, or urge him on. They just sit there like bumps on a log. A poignant metaphor for many people’s parenting. They are distracted, inattentive, and seldom cheering their child on.
Dads, your children need you to enthusiastically cheer them on. They need you to have the guts to shout out loud and cheer for them. They need you to care enough to let them know you are proud of them, that they did a great job or put forth a great effort. They need your engagement, your words of encouragement, and your outward demonstration of enthusiastic love. This is especially true in their day-to-day living at home as you raise them. Cheer them on in everything you possibly can!
I can’t tell you how many times I saw my kids perform music, singing and playing a song, or leading worship, and how many times I would come up to them with such joy and pride, often tears in my eyes, cheering them on and telling them what a tremendous job they did, and praising specific things I observed. Our children need us to be their biggest cheerleader, the person who notices the effort they put forth, who joyfully shares in their successes. Even to this day, I cheer them on in life, in the raising of their kids, in their endurance of great afflictions, and in their achievements. I am paying careful attention, and I am taking special notice.
Recently, I got to see several of my grandchildren run in a couple of cross country races. I can’t make it to every race, but I was able to make these. My son-in-law and my daughter are coaches of their cross country team. There were thousands of people there, and literally hundreds of racers in each 3k and 5k race. I don’t have the energy I once had to run across the field chasing after them, but I am there, standing at the end of the race shouting out their name, yelling encouragement to them. I always come home and write personal emails to each grandchild commending them for the way they ran, how well they did, and how amazed I am that they can run so far, so fast. I commend them for all the miles of training they’ve run to prepare. It takes tremendous dedication, hard work, and endurance to run those races.
Often at their races, I become nostalgic and emotional, and I have to work hard to hold back my tears, partly because it is so touching to see my grandchildren out there giving their very best. But, one of the biggest reasons it’s so emotional for me is because I can’t stop thinking about my wife. Kathy was an amazing high school long-distance runner. She won most of her races and set school records. But in most of the races she ran, there was no family there cheering her on, not even her boyfriend, who was the men’s long-distance champion, came to see her race and cheer her on. Her parents occasionally came to a few of her races, taking pictures, which meant the world to her. I came home the other day from the grandkids race, and choking back my emotions, told her how sorry I was that so few came to see her during all those years running. I said “Kathy, I wish I could have been there cheering you on. You are a champion. I have watched you for 46 years run this marathon of faith-race, under the most difficult circumstances, dealing with pain, afflictions, and gut wrenching hardships and you never, ever, ever quit. You just keep running and running, pressing on no matter what, wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord, and it is so inspiring to me.” I am to this day, her biggest cheerleader, her greatest fan.
Dads, let me urge you to be attentive to your children, day in and day out. Cheer them on, be their biggest fan, their biggest cheerleader. Your cheers and encouragement will help them win the great victories of their life but also help them through the difficult setbacks and hardships that inevitably come.
You do not want your child looking back thinking “My dad was never cheering me on. What I did, didn’t matter to him.”
Make it your personal mission to cheer them on in life for the rest of their lives!
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling