(Elisha with the flowers he arranged for his Granny.)
What are you constantly pursuing?
Elisha, my oldest son, came home from school today. As with every day, he was a bit impatient wit hour questions about how his day went, what did he learn, did he get in trouble (always asked jokingly), etc.
After all that, Elisha thought about something, and with that bright look indicating good news, he told me, “I finished reading the book you gave me about the red rubber ball.”
Rules of the Red Rubber Ball, by Kevin Carroll, was given to me years ago by a friend and mentor in youth ministry. I came across it recently in storage and brought it into the house to re-read later. Elisha is an excellent reader, but he has a very narrow preference of reading material. So I decided to give him a reading assignment. “Here, read this.” I gave him the tiny, 96-page book. It’s easy reading, well within my son’s ability to comprehend. He balked at the idea of having to read something that did not have cartoons in it.
This was a week or two ago, and occasionally I’d reminded him to read some of the book about the red rubber ball. All of a sudden, he had finished it.
“What did you learn?” Elisha recounted some of the stories, like when Kevin was a new Air Force recruit, in training to become an MP, when he realized he would hate the job. He spoke up to his drill instructor and said he wanted a different job. In spite of the low odds of changing jobs, especially after disrupting his class and defying his drill instructor in the process, Kevin became a language specialist and instructor in Germany, where he earned his sports medicating degree and played soccer.
Elisha told me how Kevin applied for a job in his old neighborhood, at a boys high school that catered to wealthy families. He got the job after sharing with the principal that, as a kid 20 years before, Kevin would jimmy the window to the gymnasium so he could play basketball at night. The coincidence was amazing to both Kevin and the principal, and Kevin became the athletic director and the first black employee of the school.
One of the rules of the red rubber ball (the goal you want to achieve for yourself) is, “Maximize each moment and focus on the present.” I praised my son for following this rule already. He reads his Bible every day, sometimes first thing in the morning. It is not something I have to remind him to do anymore. By maximizing the moment in the morning or right after school, he prepares himself for future success in the kingdom of God. “That’s really important for meeting your goals,” I said. He was happy to hear it.
If you put expectations out there, even if it takes a little while, children will rise to the occasion. Growth seems to happen slowly, then all at once.
I can see lots of potential red rubber balls my children may chase. Encouraging my son to use his skills and to step out of his comfort zone has helped him move in the right direction.
Recognition goes a long way. Children need to be affirmed they are doing right, that you’re proud of them, that they are making progress, and that they should keep trying.
And so, I am encouraged to keep pursuing my red rubber ball- sons who become men of God.
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