How much of your internal drive and motivation depends on the approval of others? How much is driven by the love of God?
Ever spent time participating in 4-H events? It seems like only yesterday, when we shared the entire day at the county fair with our daughter who was an active participant in 4H dog events. Our family pet then was Rusty (a sheltie with the official name of Sir Rusty Knight). He would grudgingly partake in three events each year which they have faithfully been practicing each week. The three events included dog obedience, showmanship, and agility. As any Dad would admit, it’s a fatherly joy to witness the personal growth and development of your daughter in self-confidence and poise as she works with her pet in each event. Each event is designed so that each handler and companion must attain enough points to qualify for the next level of competition the following year. So even though awards of recognition are given each year for the top three finishers of each event and level, it is possible for all participants to win by qualifying for the next level. In others words, you could place last and still win.
Anyway, this day there was the agility course. Each dog had to be led by their handler through a maze of obstacles under a certain amount of time and under certain rules of behavior. Over the years, we have witnessed dogs that have ran through the course in practice without any problems suddenly develop stubbornness and independence of will. They will do whatever they want contrary to the instructions of their handler. Sometimes it becomes so funny that the audience laughs at the situation. This day was no different.
Many of the dogs ran the obstacle course perfectly until half way through when suddenly, without warning they would turn and head right over the fenced area. Therefore, they became disqualified. Or they would run through obstacles of their own choosing having major points deducted. Through it all the audience would laugh but afterwards show their love and approval of the young handler’s efforts with applause.
This day though, there was a young lady, Mary, who was attempting the novice agility course for at least the sixth time. In the previous events, she didn’t qualify with a passing mark and therefore would have to retake the course until she met all the conditions of passing. This day, she prevailed. When they passed out the awards for the top three finishers, she was not with them. Instead, she received a ribbon for meeting the qualifications and succeeding at her efforts. The top three finishers received applause from the audience. No one applauded Mary. After which, her mother, her friends, and people who knew stopped by to acknowledge her achievement. She was beaming with accomplishment. She didn’t need the applause. She didn’t need the acknowledgement from others. Her greatest applause was from the inside out. She was persistent and determined to handle her dog and pay whatever price to meet the qualifications of passing that course. And she did. Her joy was rewarded.
For us, Mary’s success is our success. What she learned and gained through that experience will be with her for the rest of her life. The thrill of personal victory and accomplishment means more to her and her companion than for anyone else who won and competed that day. Memories of character development and sweet success will be with her forever.
Likewise for us, it’s an event that reminds us of our walk as disciples of His. We are comforted by the daily struggles and trials we go through that no one else knows but our Savior.But through tests, grace, and spiritual power our character is being changed and developed more and more like Christ’s. In our spiritual successes we don’t need applause. We only need the thankful appreciation of our Holy Dad who gives us the sweet successes through the Power that He provides. We know when we succeed and we know when we fail. We no longer need plaudits to motivate us to the kingdom. We are disciples of His equipped by the Holy Spirit to overcome any obstacle. Thank you, Jesus.
PS: Our daughter and Rusty qualified in all three events that they entered with the added benefit of finishing first in two events and third in the other. But more importantly, it brings us greater joy just to watch her grow in skill and personal character throughout the 4-H process.
Our Gracious Dad, Our reward is in you and in Jesus. Let your love always abound in us. Whatever disappointments and so call failures come our way, always remind us that you are with us. That your love is greater than anything else that this world has to offer. Shower your love always on us. Help us spray those around us with your love. In Jesus we thank you as we praise your name always. Amen.
Consultant & Coach for Christ-Centered
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