I remember many years ago here in Colorado Springs. I was speaking with a friend of mine in his home. His son came into the house very anger and slammed the door. My friend turned to him and told him "You must be out of your mind slamming my door like you own it." I could not help but to laugh because it sounded just like something I would say to one of my children. "Sorry Dad, I am just mad." "I can see that" said his father "Whats going on."
This is where the Learnin' Sermon begins.
He told his father that he had decided to quit wrestling. Just hearing that I could see my friend, his father, raise his eyebrows as if saying "Oh Really". "And when did you decide that?" He asked his son. "Today" he responded. His dad sat back in his chair and took a deep breath. You see his son thinks he is grown now. He is in middle school a seventh grader and he lets his mom and dad know on occasion, that he is no longer a baby and can make his own decisions. His parents try to give him enough room to make decisions so that he can feel the pain of those decisions to then educate him on how is not as grown as he thinks he is.
"And what brought on this decision?" his dad asked. "Well, I have been doing it for a long time and I just want to do something else." "Something else like what" began his father. "You could clean your room the way that I want it to be cleaned every day. You can cut the grass in the spring, summer, and fall. Rake up the leaves in the fall. Shovel the snow in the winter. Take YOUR dog, that has somehow become your mom and I's dog, for a walk." "Dad" "Boy don't interrupt me. You must think I am done. Clean the kitchen every night after your mom or I cook. Put the dishes in the dishwasher, wash the pots and pans. When the dishwasher is finished put the dishes away." He turned to me "Isaac am I forgetting anything?" I just smiled and said "I am talking notes."
His son then said. "Dad I just don't want to do it anymore." "And that is a reason to quit?" his father replied. "See that is what ticked me off. The coach said I am a quitter. He shouldn't talk to me like that and I think you and mom should go in with me and complain. Words hurt!" His dad then looked at me and said "This boy truly is out of his mind." With that he turned back to his son. "Words hurt? No son, Real Talk hurts. It is the middle of season. You have been going to every practice and now on a day that you are suppose to practice you went to your coach and told him that you want to quit." Quickly his son jumped back into the conversation "I didn't tell him that I wanted to quit. I told him that I wanted to take a break." I couldn't help it and had to laugh. "Isaac talk to this boy." With that invitation I had to supply some wisdom. "So you are mad at your coach for calling you a name?" I started with. "I am not a quitter." he replied. "What do you call someone who begins something and does not finish it?" I asked. "That is different he said." I smiled and said "Look, you are mad because he has classified you within a group of people that your actions prove you belong in. He didn't call you out of your name. He gave you the label that your actions revealed you are "Quitter". Now what hurts is not just the word, but the realization that what he said is true." He opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something but realized there was nothing he could say. I continued "If you continued training and practicing and at the end of this year you have the best record in the city, county, and eventually the state. What would they call you?" "They would call me the State Champ" he said. "You are right and they should call you that because your actions, work ethic, and perseverance has proven that you are a champion. If your actions supply you with the label of champion, then your actions can also supply you with the label of quitter if you chose to what?" "Quit" he replied.
At that time he got it. "I am not a quitter though." he said looking at his father. "You are saying one thing, but showing another. Don't tell me who you are, show me." said his father. His son nodded his head in acknowledgement to his dad. "I gotta run back to school. They are still practicing. I need to apologize to coach and see if I can get my practice in." His dad said "You know since you are late, Coach is going to give you penalty exercises." "Yeah I know and he will make the team do them with me." His son said sadly. "Wow that sucks" I said. "Yeah but we all know that our actions impact those around us. Coach teaches that. If i slack off in class it hurts my teammates. If I am late it disrupts their training. We all know this so we all are accountable not just to ourselves but to each other." he said. "Wow, sounds like your coach teaches you a lot more than just wrestling. Why would anyone want to quit that?" He nodded and ran out the door.
Too often we as a people get offended when people place us into a group or category, but we have to understand that if our actions dictate our inclusion in that group that we can't be mad at the label. Instead, be angry at ourselves because it is our own actions that has placed us there.
Do you have being called a smoker? Stop smoking. Do you hate being called a thief? Stop stealing. Do you have being called a quitter? Stop quitting. To change those things within yourself that are not your best means that you are improving yourself. Identify the problem and Provide the Solution. In that self accountability comes noticeable and true change.
Are you not a Quitter?....Prove It!