John Smoltz was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame this past week, and his Cooperstown speech has made for good discussion among fans. Included in his speech on Sunday was a warning to parents who have made competitive youth baseball a year-round sport. Specifically he warned about damage being done to young pitching arms, and aggressive parents whose dreams for their child’s professional career are stronger than any twelve-year old’s could possibly be.
Children matter. But sometimes it seems as if children matter in the same way that mom and apple pie matter. More lip service than getting down on the floor to play with a toddler or seeing to bed-time prayers with an eight-year old or talking through hurt feelings tough decisions with a teenager.
This is the line the caught my eye when I read the transcript of Smoltz’s speech. Speaking to his parents, he said, “You taught me to honor God first, family second, school third, and sports fourth. You put the priorities where they needed to be and you stood by them. I thank you for that.”
It’s our option as to what we might want our kids’ fourth priority to be, but I think Mr. and Mrs. Smoltz got the first three absolute right. God, family, school, and then music, sports, dance, art, crafts, astronomy or chess; let the kids decide number four.
Teaching a kid to honor God, family, and education is what training up a child in the way he should go is all about. It is included in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Children matter at LPC, and it’s more than lip service. Children matter at baptism when parents and the congregation make covenantal promises to help a child know Jesus and experience his love. Children matter as we teach Sunday School, get our kids to choirs, work with youth groups, learn names, care about what kids care about, and pray for parents. Children matter when we pray for those of our own who teach in our schools. Children matter when we put their need to be a child ahead of our need to look good.
Children matter at LPC in the way we do mission. The photo at the head of this post is a composite showing children from Hunting Park Christian Academy in North Philadelphia, Promised Land School in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, and Kibuye Primary School in Burundi. At LPC we are committed to helping our partners in those places nurture children because children matter. They are places where children learn about God and family, the value of education and their own gifts and abilities that are to be nurtured and developed. In that order: God, family, education, and what they do best.
Kids in North Philadelphia, San Lucas Toliman, and Kibuye don’t always have much opportunity to stretch their abilities and own their talents. But they’ll have a much better chance to do so if they learn to honor God, family, and education.
LPC mission dollars, mission work, mission love, and mission prayer support HPCA, PLM, and the entire Kibuye project in significant ways.
This Sunday the Pennies, Nickels, and Dimes jug returns to the chancel steps at LPC. Spare change, found coins, quarters from your dresser top and nickels from between the couch cushions are added to the jug every Sunday of the month. And who knows, by the end of the month three or four or maybe even five children in Guatemala will be able to go to school for another year. And by the generosity of Plan Padrino supporters (you’ll be hearing more about Plan Padrino soon!) those children will join 130 others who go to school at Promised Land School because we believe that children matter. Let’s fill the jug!
Children matter. They matter at LPC because they matter to God.
By the way, this is from two years ago but still true: Want to Change the World? Sponsor a Child
See you Sunday (and don’t forget those pennies, nickels, dimes and more…)