My kids recently reminded me, once again, of a principle even many adults need to learn. It is the fact that unless we did something to contribute to something that is a success then we really don’t have the right to celebrate it as though we were a part of it.
Sports fans are my favorite example of this. I’ve always been a bigger fan of actually PLAYING sports as opposed to watching, so I’m not a rabid fan. But some people go nuts over sports teams they merely cheer for. Statements like “we won last night” are my favorite because to me it sounds like the person saying “we” actually competed at something. When I find out they were watching something on TV I’m let down about this person’s participation in a competitive event.
Ok, so maybe cheering could be very loosely accepted as participation or contribution to a success, but it’s nowhere near the same as those who actually get in the game. I recently taught my kids this lesson about giving.
They attended VBS (vacation Bible school) at a local church where there was a competition between grades to see who could raise the most money to give to a worthy cause. Our competitive child (I will not name) came home boasting of how awesome their grade was doing winning the competition. Shawna and I knew they had not given anything to this effort other than cheers. Normally we would have given them money to contribute but in this scenario we immediately recognized a teaching opportunity.
We explained to both our older two kids that unless they gave they really couldn’t celebrate winning as though they did something. We also encouraged them to give from their money (they earn money for doing work around the house), but we did not give them our money to simply pass it on. They needed to have skin in the game.
The end of VBS event took place and at the end our kids grade was awarded for giving the most. On the way home the boasting commenced again “we won, we beat the older kids”, and we questioned again, “Did you give anything?” Of course the answer was “no, we forgot” which I interpreted as “what, from OUR money”. We reminded the kids that unless they actually gave something they really didn’t earn the right to celebrate the success as though they did give something. They could cheer for their classmates but they couldn’t really say “we won”.
I see the same thing happening all the time with adults at churches. Great things are happening, all the signs of church success are there, people are being reached for Jesus. When the pastor reminds everyone that all that success is possible because of generous givers there are people in the crowd who celebrate that success as though they actually did something, as though they had skin in the game.
I have no apologies for issuing a tough love challenge to believers who are not givers. Anybody can sit in the stands and cheer. Put some skin in the game.