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Start ’em Young

Updated: Mar 4, 2022

Spring has sprung! What a great time of year. I’m enjoying all the things of spring that I love – warmer weather, green grass, all the wild flowers covering the fields on the country roads around camp. I’m also learning to enjoy something new for me – baseball and softball season.

You see, I didn’t grow up playing baseball. I had an interesting experience as a youngster trying to play tee-ball and that was it for me. (Silly story, come find me at Teen Camp this summer and ask me; I love to tell it!). I grew up playing basketball and soccer.

My three oldest children have all taken their turns trying out baseball or softball. This season my oldest son is in his second year of 8U baseball and my youngest daughter is in her first season of softball. I am very thankful for the men and women who volunteer their time to coach my kiddos. I can teach them how to shoot a basketball, but I know NOTHING about America’s Favorite Pastime. However, I am thankful that they are getting to learn at such young ages.

I’ve come to really appreciate the technical aspects of the sport. Swinging a bat and throwing a ball correctly just don’t seem like automatic/natural mechanics that people learn on their own. They need to be taught correctly how to do it. I could make something up, but that’s all it would be. I had fun going to Rangers games in the early 90s with my church. Julio Franco was a batter that I always remembered. When he stepped up to the plate, he held his bat high above his head and waved it around a bit waiting for the pitch. If I am going to try to help my kids become successful in their endeavors with this sport, that’s about all I have to go on; the rest will be my best attempt.

But will my best attempt be good enough? Is there a right way to learn how to do these things? If the kids are taught proper mechanics and fundamentals in tee-ball and early coach-pitch leagues, will that help them to be more successful down the road?

I say it will. I am glad for friends who have the experience of being mature players who can come alongside my kids to teach them the proper way to do things.

Maybe you can see where I’m going with this. Kids need to be taught. PERIOD. They need to be shown the proper way to do things. And for me to be able to show them, I am going to need to learn these things first. Sure, I can check out and just leave it all up to the coaches once or twice a week for a couple months out of the year. But is that really good enough?

Let’s move to a different sport or discipline. What about life? What about the Christian life? Do I want my children to be successful Christians? YOU BET I DO!! Is it going to happen naturally? Well, they have about as good a chance just becoming Christ-like by chance as they do just becoming professional athletes. It ain’t gonna happen by itself. They have to be shown and taught and coached. And they need to be shown properly.

We are shown Scripture passages like:

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

What a great passage. If I learn my kids’ personalities and how the Lord built them, and by His grace can discern the way each should go in order to be pleasing to Him, then most of the time it’ll stick. But how do I do that?

I am fortunate and blessed to go to church with the Athletic Director for the local high school and with a former MLB pitcher. If I want my son to learn properly how to throw a baseball, I’m going to these experts.

If I want my sons and daughters to learn how to be like Christ, to be well-pleasing to Him, to live life in a manner worthy of the gospel, (and I do) then I’m going to the Expert. I’m going to God through His word. And I’m not going to just outsource it to ‘coaches’ – read Pastors, Children’s Pastors, Youth Pastors, Sunday school teachers, camp counselors, etc. Sure, they can offer great benefit just like sport coaches can for sports. But, in the end, it rests on my shoulders.

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:6-9

It is my job to learn Scriptures myself. First, because that is how I personally know my Creator, my Savior, my Lord Jesus Christ. It is how I become a mature and successful Christian. It is how I learn the ‘technical aspects’ of forgiveness, kindness, self-control, graciousness, hospitality, obedience, etc. These things don’t come naturally, they are learned.

Second, it is how I am able to teach my children the proper way to live life as a Christian. I need to read it, learn it, live it, teach it.

I love this time of year. So much newness!! I love that my kids like to learn things. I love to watch them try these new-to-the-Henderson-family sports. They are being coached well at such young ages. I have no ambition for them in the sports world other than to enjoy it and have their character refined and grown. But I do want them to be successful in the ONE THING THAT MATTERS IN THIS LIFE – their RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS!

I’m sure you are with me. Maybe you were taught the Bible by your parents. That’s great, make sure to do likewise.

Maybe you were not taught the Bible and are still young in your faith. That’s ok, too. Get some help. Go to your Pastor and ask him to teach you the Bible. He’ll fall out of his chair with excitement, I guarantee it.

Maybe you have been taught the Bible, but as of right now do not have kids in your house to teach. Well then, go be a “coach”! Find a youngster that needs it and teach them what you know.

I’m so thankful for the many men and women who discipled and taught the Bible to the next generation. It has been happening since my Lord Jesus ascended to heaven and sent His Holy Spirit to us. Let us continue to teach the children!

Let’s start ‘em young.

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