Each month a different member of the Trinity congregation prepares a few words which we hope that you will find interesting and thought-provoking.
Should we encourage our children to reach for the skies?
How often do you hear people in media interviews, who have made it in life, either in the worlds of sport, the media, academia or business, say, in effect, to any young people listening:
"I made it and with hard work you can do so too"?
You have, possibly, said something similar to your children or your grandchildren, or if a teacher to your students. Is it true? Or are we setting up our children to fail, and to even become bitter, feeling both robbed and that life is not fair?
There is a mind-set, which was developed at Stanford University in the USA, and which has infiltrated classrooms around the world, that says one must always praise a child by pointing to the right, but over-looking the wrong. This may benefit some young people, but may also hinder others and leave them in ignorance as to their real abilities. I once was with a group of college English lecturers at a training day, and a word came up which one lecturer present discovered he had been spelling incorrectly for all his life, simply because no one had pointed out his misspelling! The same mind-set also leads to some people not being able to recognize their own limitations – success is not always within their grasp - and to lead young people to believe otherwise is what one professor has called this ‘cruel optimism’! Robert Browning, in one of his poems, wrote:
A man’s grasp must always exceed his reach or what is heaven for?
What is most important is that children and young people are brought up to believe their true value does not lie in what they achieve, but rather in who they become as people; men and women with a concern and respect for others, regardless of colour, creed or status; as individuals who know themselves to be loved by God and of such value that His Son gave his life that they might have life, life in all its fullness.
I leave you with this poem by an Anonymous author:
‘Not how did he die, but how did he live?
Not, what did he gain, but what did he give?
These are the units to measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of birth.
Not what was his church, nor what was his creed?
But had he befriended those really in need?
Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer,
To bring back a smile, to banish a tear?
Not what did the sketch in the newspaper say,
But how many were sorry when he passed away.’
Rev John Whittle