Are you afraid your child will fail, or not reach their dreams? Are you trying to protect them by keeping their dreams ‘realistic’?
Would God agree with your decision? Or is fear DRIVING you to make the choices you make?
“You’re never going to make it!” sneered one boy.
“You’re actually trying out for that team?” another asked with raised eyebrows.
“Seriously Shaver?! You’re not good enough!” proclaimed another boy. The locker room soon became filled with little boys assuring my son that his thoughts of making an AAA hockey team (2 major levels up from the team he was playing for at the time) were too far fetched.
In talking to the parents, they would say things like, “Oh Johnny isn’t going to tryout for that team, he’s just not good enough..so you’re really letting Tyler tryout, huh?”
We responded with, “Of course, we’re going to let him try out. We’re not going to tell him he won’t make it; we’ll let the coaches determine that.”
We also were not afraid of having our son experience rejection, or what some would see as failure. Why would rejection be bad? If he were to be denied a position on the team, we knew we could use it as an opportunity to reinforce to him that his identity is in Christ. We would encourage him that if he continued to work hard, developed a solid work ethic, and continued practicing at home, he could always try again next year.
What is the lie most people believe who fear rejection?
That their self-worth— or that of their children’s— is determined by man’s definition of success. If making the team is man’s definition of success and my child will likely not make the cut, then should I do everything I can to protect him from that pain?
No, let him try out. Let him learn to grow through the pain so his mind becomes strong. This is a great opportunity to help him learn ‘to take every thought captive’. Teach him that success is the willingness to try; success is trusting God even if the desired outcome seems like a slim chance.
My son made that AAA team that year…to everyone else’s surprise. Then, for the next 3 years he attempted to make the highest level AAA team, and every year he was rejected. When Tyler asked why he wasn’t selected, a coach crouched down, looking him in the eyes and said, “You’re not good enough…keep working.” I would not trade those rejections for all of his successes! He learned perseverance, to trust God with where he was placed, and ultimately and most importantly, that his worth was not connected to his performance on the ice, in the classroom, or anywhere else.
When you protect your child from the pain of rejection you deny him the opportunity to recognize that rejection doesn’t define him. I also like to tell my kids that, “Rejection is sometimes God’s protection”. God could be protecting you in ways you may never know or understand.
When we determine that our kids are ‘cut’ before they even try, we are becoming ‘God’ in their lives. We are making ourselves the idol. We will work hard to be ‘right’ about and justify our decision, instead of trusting the whole situation to God.
If you delight yourself in God, God says that He will give you the desire of your heart (Psalm 37:4). He is known for doing great feats through weak and unlikely people; maybe the next person He is going to use is your son or daughter. Do not fear rejection. Instead, celebrate the opportunity God has given to you or your child to step out in faith! After all, with God all things are possible!
After being denied 3 times, Tyler’s 4th attempt to make the team he most desired to be on was a success; he just completed his first season on that top team. We regularly look back in awe at what we would have missed out on had any of us allowed the statements of those locker room boys or their parents to dictate our decision regarding Tyler’s tryout 4 years ago. We thank God that we knew to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd who says, “This is the way, walk in it!”
Written by Jamie Shaver