Becoming Great Humans!

“My son Kyle is an incredibly fast runner – I don’t know here he gets it from.” “Yes, my Matt’s athleticism has really kicked in!” Both parents then looked over at me to see what I might contribute to the conversation about my son who was also on the field. I paused for moment, all of my competitive juices beginning to flow. What great physical attribute could I parent-brag about my kid? Then I blurted out, “My son is becoming such a great human being.” Bewildered looks from the other sideline parents quickly changed to that recognizable look of pity.

On September 27th and 28th social media was a buzz with National Daughter Day and National Son Day. It was wonderful to see many-a-young persons I am / have been blessed to see grow up. All of them deservedly make their parents proud. Yet it did make me pause about what is the actual measuring stick we are using to determine the bell ringing proud meter: athletics, academics, the arts or best of all a trifecta.

During my short tenure in classroom teaching and in a much longer tour of duty volunteering I have been duly impressed with the academic achievement of a number of students. As a long time coach I have been literally amazed with the athleticism of a great deal of players. As a camp and church guy I have been blown away with the myriad of artistic talents of a whole cadre of kids.

Yet at the end of the day the young people, both in the moment and later on their journey, that impressed me the most were the ones who were great humans: kind, compassionate, empathic, passionate, forgiving, fun-loving individuals. The ‘thing’ – athletics / academics / arts – while valuable in its own way, was at the end of day only a vehicle for these young people to grow into the humans they were becoming.

I firmly believe there are three essential things that every young person should know, and at every opportunity will tell them so: they are a beloved child of God uniquely created in God’s image; they are uniquely gifted; those gifts are not for themselves but to be shared with the world. My experience has taught me that when a young person owns those three things it doesn’t matter where they’re accelerating, they will be doing so as WHO they are as a good human rather than via an accomplishment.

“May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.” — attributed to Mother Teresa

3 thoughts on “Becoming Great Humans!”

  1. Sally L Herring

    I can relate to this story, Our 17 year old son is in his second year of running Cross Country. He’ll never be the fastest but I’ve never seen him more dedicated to a bunch of friends. He’s grown so much through this experience and formed some of his most lasting and richest friendships. He’s become more disciplined and has developed a sense of team loyalty that comes before many other things. Watching them gather to pray before each race, helping the younger runners warm-up or cheering each other on is the highlight of the meet for me. He’s not on his way to breaking a state record or running on an SEC college team but he’s become one of the human beings I am most delighted to know.

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