It may still be 97 degrees outside, but the fall semester is now in full swing at both church and school. That means among other things that football, soccer, volleyball, piano, ballet, etc. are all up and running once again. Last week a great blogpost was making the rounds on Facebook and Twitter concerning “What Parents Should Say as Their Kids Perform.” The author, Tim Elmore, works with student-athletes at every level of sports, and he notes that the best intentioned parents often do things that actually stymie their son or daughter’s ability to perform and enjoy performing. You can read the article for his full analysis, but I love his conclusion. The absolute best thing a parent can say to a child before, during, or after a game/recital/etc. is “I love to watch you play.” Isn’t that terrific?! I love to watch you play. What a profound way to express your unconditional love for your child. These words don’t tie your love to your kid’s performance or success, just his or her participation in an activity he or she has chosen to try.
What could be more liberating than to know that another person simply delights in our presence and participation in life? I’m a grown up and I wish I had someone who would tell me, “I love to watch you play.” Oh wait, I do. The Bible promises that “The Lord takes delight in his people” (Ps. 149:4). His love isn’t chained to my performance or my success. His love is instead tied completely to the fact that he has made us and we are his. Which means, I need not be afraid of disappointing God. I need not play it safe when it comes to trying to follow him in this world. I can play freely. As a follower of Jesus, that means I can do my very best at loving deeply, forgiving liberally, and sowing generously knowing that when I come off the field, God isn’t going to nitpick my performance, he’s going look at me his child and say, “I love to watch you play.”
“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” – Zephaniah 3:17