Feature Article—Success by Marlin Detweiler
Educational Helps – by Laurie Detweiler
I got a Wii for Christmas. I wasn’t expecting a Wii, I hadn’t asked for a Wii. It was probably the last thing I would have guessed I would get. Yet, I must admit it’s been great fun, and I am really glad I got it.
One of the fascinating things about the Wii is that many of the games require skill and execution closely related to the real thing, but due to aspects of the technology, a less-talented player can compete more effectively with a more talented player. Consider bowling. My wife does well to bowl a real game that exceeds 100. With Wii she can do considerably better than that. I’m a decent bowler, yet I have to bowl fairly well to stay ahead of her on the Wii. We had several families over for a small get-together right after Christmas, and it became a wonderful activity around which good fellowship occurred since the difference between the best and worst players was mitigated.
That’s a great upside.
There’s a downside, too.
Quick, easy success in a form that lies about the benefit of hard and smart work has become the fertile ground for one of the great evils of our day—egalitarianism. It’s important we be clear here. At one level egalitarian thinking is a very good thing. It should never have been the case that our black neighbors were thought of as inferior and not entitled to the same benefits as our white neighbors. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and all that good stuff were once thought to have come from God, and they are for all men. Still seems like a good idea, don’t you think?
However, influences around us are egalitarian to a fault, and Christians have bought in. The haves are forced to subsidize the have-nots through our federal income tax structure, the idea of becoming a real expert has given way to participation ribbons, and education is increasingly squeezed out by training.
And that should be the attraction of classical Christian education. In it we see students using their God-given gifts to learn, think, and articulate beyond our own recent past educational experiences. We can have hope that a more thoughtful, articulate, Christian community can do better than we did. That is, if we don’t succumb to the forces around us that would seek to gut the education to which we have been attracted by re-labeling and redefining it to an easier and more streamlined version that ultimately redefines it at its essence.
A sound classical Christian education for our precious covenant children is a good, actually great, first step. Yet other hurdles remain. It may seem enough for you to produce well-educated, godly children. It should certainly be granted that it is of first, even utmost, importance, but it is not the only thing that matters.
Many Christians today seem to lack the willingness to encourage their children to excel, to take the gifts that God has given them and develop them in exceptional ways.
In a recently published book, Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, we learn of numerous phenomena—sociological and otherwise—that Gladwell observes contribute to the remarkable accomplishments and successes of certain individuals.
He observes something called the “10,000 Hour Rule.” It is simply the idea that people like Bill Gates, The Beatles, Tiger Woods, and other extraordinarily accomplished folks have invested at least 10,000 hours (among other things) to achieve what they have achieved.
He also observes that no one is self-made. This bears repeating. No one is self-made. Our circumstances, opportunities, upbringing, and even our birth date can play a huge role in any success we experience.
One last observation of note from Mr. Gladwell’s book is that raw intelligence by itself may be of little benefit.
So why are we talking about this here?
First, it seems many times Christians misdirect or fail to encourage their children to develop their God-given gifts to their fullest potential by not giving them the opportunities or tools to do so. Maybe it’s the fear of something becoming an idol to our children or thinking that something like a sport or limited skill such as playing a musical instrument is not worth the effort because it doesn’t seem spiritual enough. Whatever the reason, we should question whether we have heeded Colossians 3:23, 24 when we, for what may seem good reason, hinder our children from putting forth their best effort to the glory of God.
Christians also seem confused by or reluctant to believe that striving to be recognized for exceptional accomplishments is good. Proverbs 22:29 teaches, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings. . . .” God’s word clearly implies this is a very good thing—a noble goal. An acquaintance of mine was given a cross-stitched and framed version of this verse that hangs in an out-of-the-way place in his home. It’s particularly meaningful to him because he once had the extraordinary privilege of cooking for the Queen of England for several days while she stayed at the Blair House. Apparently, he did such an exceptional job that she requested his presence to tell him so at the end of her stay.
Second, classical Christian education is the best tool I know to develop the God-given gifts of our children in many respects—notably, intellectually, by teaching them how to think, how to learn, and how to articulate what they’ve mastered. Ideally, it will also help them see what Gladwell observes—that no one is self-made, thereby instilling gratitude and humility for one’s God-given gifts and the opportunities to develop them.
At Veritas Press we’re committed to a new type of Christian; one who is not afraid to succeed and lead, one who is willing to do the hard work (especially when no one is looking), and one who humbly recognizes that all gifts are from and for the glory of God. We recognize the danger in success and what it has done to snare so many. But we also recognize that God gives gifts and expects us to develop and use them that we might play our part in the beautiful, unfolding story of His redemption.
I’ve got to run. My wife wants to Wii bowl again.
As we look to the New Year, we normally tend to reflect back over the past year and find things in our lives that we would like to change. We do this in the education of our children, too. Most of what I tend to write about deals with the academics of education, but this in not actually the most important thing we do as Christian parents. Far from it. The most important thing we do is raise our children to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. In doing this one of the issues we must deal with is their character. Just like academics in education, one must make a conscious decision to invest in this process or it will not likely happen. We have given you many academic motivational charts over the years, and I thought as we begin the New Year it would be a good time to give you a chart that deals with issues of the heart, not academics.
Although I must say I believe the two go hand-in-hand. One cannot really have one without the other. Click here to download a Christian Character Chart that will help you to make this a priority for your children to work on.
Have a blessed 2010 as we work together to raise children that serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
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Interesting Facts about Veritas Press
November and December tend to be a couple of our slower months. This means we have time to pay attention to certain details that we overlook other times of the year. While preparing to pay our sales tax for November—it’s due by December 20th—we noted that we did business in 49 states and Puerto Rico. If you are the first to guess which state in which we did no business during November, we will reward you with a $25 gift certificate. Responses should be emailed to email@example.com. You might also be interested in knowing we did business in the following countries during November: Australia, Canada, China, Netherlands, Yemen, South Korea, and a whole host of others unknown to us since they were mailed to military addresses using the “APO” or “FPO” designation.
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 A Wii is the latest in home video games from Nintendo and requires far more of the player than two active thumbs.