The easiest thing in the world to find is fault in another human or institution. They are dreadfully easy to pull down. There is nothing in the works of man that is free from imperfection, and if one continues to dwell upon the imperfections inherent in all of us, one will find exactly what is looked for. Man tends to see best what he is supposed to see and hear best what he is supposed to hear. He will get what he expects.
To prove the point I will use an illustration. Suppose a father sets high academic and athletic expectations for his son, but the boy is unable for whatever reason to meet those expectations. Over time, with each dashed hope, the father may begin to believe that boy to be a failure. Eventually even if the boy has a success or two, they will be seen as aberrations; the boy is still a failure in the eyes of his dad.
Now suppose the father gets input he cannot refuse or ignore. Imagine a wife and mother watching this over time. It would be strange indeed if she did not attempt to convince the father that their son is not a failure at all, he merely has goals different from her husband’s. She might say, “His successes will never be in line with your expectations, but they will be successes nonetheless.” The study of human behavior tells us that the father will not change his opinion immediately, but he might just admit that his wife has a point. If that happens he, with proper reinforcement from his wife, will eventually come to understand that his son is a “success.”
Well, I’m that father! I believed my son to be a failure because he did not “live up to” my expectations. I did get input from my wife and lots of it, thank God. The event that convinced me she was right was a soccer banquet. Our son played because I wanted him to. He wasn’t very good, and the banquet was a mere formality. I knew he wouldn’t be singled out for anything meaningful. I was wrong! The final award was for Sportsmanship. It would be awarded to the person in the league who exemplified fair and generous behavior in the treatment of teammates and opponents alike. Our son was called to the podium and presented with that award.
To my shame I was looking for a star athlete. To his credit he was living out the words of the Master from His Sermon on the Mount, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”
Well that boy is married with two sons. He is a spectacular husband and father. His boys adore him. And I’m not ashamed to say that I’m learning parenting from my own kid.
Ed Jones pastors Fellowship at the Ranch at Robson Ranch. This nondenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Visit Fellowship’s website: www.fellowshipattheranchchurch.org for information.