No reward for trying!

September 8th, 2015

That’s the philosophy held by Pittsburgh Steelers defender, James Harrison, when it comes to participation awards. Harrison recently posted a picture on his Instagram page of trophies acquired by his two sons for participating in an athletic camp. Below the picture, though, Harrison wrote that he would be returning the trophies because only trophies that are earned are worthy of keeping. While Harrison stressed that he will always be a source of encouragement to his sons, he stated that he doesn’t want them to grow up believing they are entitled to anything simply “because they tried their best.” Unsurprisingly, this story has refueled a long-standing debate that centers on the argument of rewarding all participants regardless of objective success.


Many of Harrison’s teammates backed his decision, as does research. Information gathered from a recent experiment revealed that children who become overvalued through excessive awards and praise are more likely to develop narcissistic traits and feelings of entitlement. Further, the study suggested that children who possess narcissistic traits are less prepared to handle failure and rejection in a healthy manner.

Nice try, good and faithful servant?

Even Jesus and his fellow disciples had plenty to say on the subjects of success and reward. Pursue perfection. Use your talents. Finish the race — all expectations we have been called to achieve in order to receive the prize that is salvation. Yet, while we are called to pursue such lofty goals, Jesus frequently reminded his disciples that such pursuits are futile if attempted through human efforts. It is only through our weaknesses that we are made perfect, and it is only through God’s gift of grace that we are saved. So, if this is true, how do we balance works and grace? And, more importantly, how do we know if we are truly succeeding in the eyes of God?

Question of the day: How does Jesus define success?
Focal Scriptures: Genesis 4:3-8; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10; Philippians 3:12-16

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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