Memory Monday: Training Pays Off (Proverbs 22:6)

My youngest daughter's team lost its hockey game this weekend by one goal. (Yes, we're still playing hockey in May). Her team outplayed the other team and really should have won. But they didn't because their goalie is just learning to play hockey. I think hockey is one of the toughest sports to play. After all, you have to do everything on a sheet of ice. Just standing up and holding onto your stick is an accomplishment when you first start playing. Add pounds and pounds of goalie gear and the fact that everyone is aiming that frozen piece of rubber at you, and I have no idea why anyone signs up to play goalie. Learning to be a goalie is tough, and you're pretty much guaranteed that you will cost your team a few games as you learn.

That's what happened on Saturday. My daughter's team's goalie stopped some really tough shots, which was a huge accomplishment. And he let some easy ones into the goal. In the end, it was those easy shots that sunk her team.

You probably know by now that if there's one thing my youngest daughter hates, it's losing. I really think she would rather cheat than lose. (Yes, we're working on that.) She's also not known for holding her tongue when she's upset about losing.

I fully expected to have to shush her in the locker room and have to talk with her about being encouraging to others on her team, even when they lose. So, imagine my surprise (and joy) when the first thing out of her mouth after the game was "You know, mom, our goalie made some really good saves."

I was more proud of her in that moment than I was of any goal she's gotten this season or any great play she's made on the ice. Despite her disappointment in losing, she was able to see that her team's goalie was improving and to celebrate that fact. I watched her during one of her shifts on defense go over and congratulate her team's goalie after he made a good stop.

These aren't things that come naturally to her. They are qualities that are taught and nurtured. Two years ago, her first reaction would have been to get upset about losing on an easy goal. Saturday, she wasn't happy about losing, but she was able to offer grace to someone else and focus on what he was doing well. That's a big accomplishment for her.

It's moments like these that make all the teaching, all the discipline and all the effort that it takes to be a parent worth it. This week's verse talks about the importance of training our children. Proverbs 22:6 says "Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Training our children pays dividends in their actions.

When our children make a shift in their attitudes and actions, it's a much bigger accomplishment than if they score a goal or make a great play. Because their actions toward others are a reflection of what's in their hearts. It's those hearts that we want to touch. It's those hearts that we want our kids to let God fill up with His love and His grace, so they can pour that love and grace out on others. When that happens, it's worth celebrating.

Starting tomorrow, we're going to spend the rest of the week looking at ways to be intentional teaching your kids certain topics this summer. Last week, I asked for suggestions of topics. So far, I've got money, humility and respect. Shoot me an email, leave a comment on the blog or on the Facebook page if you have any other topics you'd like the blog to tackle.