This weekend was the 10 year anniversary for my idea of the “glory days.” I spent the week prior to this weekend writing articles for my cities newspaper. It was the culmination of leading my football team for 12 years of intense practice, strength-training, and victory. Let’s be clear here, I was not the star athlete, coming in at 155 pounds I struggled to maintain my position!! But, we were the winningest football team in our long school history due to some great players and coaching. We entered the playoffs ranked #1 in the State. With the memories of calling complex offensive plays at eight years old, professional level sports medicine, and elite football gear, I wrote about the biggest week of my life. That Saturday was game day. We loaded up on a 56 passenger Charter Bus. We drove to downtown Atlanta, passed by billboards with our football team on them, and pulled into the lower Charter Bus bay at the Georgia Dome. On January the 30th of 1994, the legend Emmitt Smith ran for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns to help lead the Cowboys to victory, the score was 30-13 over Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills. It was Super Bowl XXVIII and it was played in the Georgia Dome. The SEC Championship was played on that field. The infamous 1998 Atlanta Falcons with the Dirty Bird and Jamaal Anderson played on this field!!! Legends. When I stepped into the same locker room that legends used, that my heroes had used, I felt the glory of victory. When I stepped onto the field, I felt the glory of victory. When we began to pull ahead substantially, I felt the glory of victory. With my grandparents, parents, and girl-friend in the stands, I felt the glory of victory.
In the teenage years, your son or daughter transitions physically, psychologically, spiritually, relationally, etc. These transitions tend to account for many issues amongst the familial unit. It also accounts for a new found success that many have either not experienced, or not comprehended the weight of glory that comes from their success. In the childhood years, victory is sweet, but as they get older, victory becomes associated with glory and defeat with shame.
These are natural byproducts of victory and defeat, but the hunger for glory can become unhealthy for both teenagers and parents.
Dance recitals, playoff games, all-state competitions, and the competitive theatrical production of the year, these all afford students the opportunity for both glory and shame. Glory and shame function in teenagers lives to create identity. What brings me glory? What brings me shame? For some, sin brings glory; for some, sin brings shame. Also, some enjoy attention as glory; yet for others, attention feels like shame because of their insecurity. You have a unique individual that you call your child. I want to encourage you today with one simple concept: teach your teenager to give glory to God.
We lost that game in the Georgia dome. We cried. I feared life without the glory that defined me. I learned to seek glory in places other than football. Not every student is like me. But, one of the most glorious moments in my life now remains as a pile of garbage. The Georgia Dome, after 25 years of glorious usage, was demolished in 2017. At my next anniversary for this glorious moment in my life, most people won’t even remember the Georgia Dome.
You can see the demolition here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7HL8DymfSo
The successes of my high school years were not in my sports, my intellectual achievements, or my popularity. Those are all fleeting. So what remains after my High School career, after College, after my physical health begins to decline and my intellectual abilities subside (if any were ever present)? People remain. The impact that I had or did not have on people remains in their life on earth and life in eternity. So, what is the point of this discussion? Help your teenager to invest in people’s lives. Selfish teenagers bask in their own glory, while selfless teenagers give glory to God through loving others. Teaching teenagers to invest in others helps students to become selfless and ultimately to bring glory to God. In heaven, no State Championship will remain, but those who were on the team that received Jesus Christ will remain. Sadly, I gave away many chances to invest in others in exchange for the glory of victory.
I do not think intellectual, competitive, or societal achievements lack any purpose, these are valid aspirations! I simply want to contend that there is a bigger purpose to success in a teenagers life, and that true success comes when lives are changed. What if those who see your teenager see the glory of God in them, and then turn to God for salvation and hope in this life. That is a bigger purpose, that is true success!
Your child should be the best student or athlete or singer or architect (etc.), but it should not be for their own glory.
Their identity is not defined by their success (which is conditional), but by the success of Jesus Christ (which is unconditional)! Teach them to bring glory to God, for His salvation and unwavering love for us, in their hard work, their victory, and their defeat; then they will have a confidence that is healthy and can sustain them through the good and bad times of life! Identity is defined by God. Glory to Him.