My son's high school recently received some tough athletic news. Both the varsity football and boy's soccer teams were discovered to have ineligible players on the team, thus forfeiting both team's records to this point in the season. That's tough news to a group of student athletes who spent all summer prepping, training, getting up early, hitting the gym, putting in extra practices, staying late, eating right. That's a lot of work, a lot of effort and a lot of discipline. An argument could be made that all of that effort was for naught. What's the point when the win/loss record gets wiped out? What's the point when all of the hard work and effort seems to have landed them back at square one?
As I chatted with my son (the varsity soccer team's starting goalie) I was reminded of an important lesson that I myself too often forget. As crazy as it sounds, "I don't want to work for the recognition of others." That may seem foolish in a world where raises and promotions are granted to those who stand out the most but as I raise my sons I want their driving motivation for success to be a heart that pleases God and an internal drive to better themselves. We fail our children when we teach and model for them that hard work pays off only when titles are won and awards are presented. Coaches and parents who teach discipline, eating right, hard work and dedication are a dime a dozen but coaches and parents who teach those things regardless of the outcome are few and far between. The boys on the football and soccer teams who had their schedules wiped clean are stronger and better off not because of this adversity and unfair situation, they are stronger and better off because of the work and effort they have put in over these last several months.
If you never receive another pay raise or promotion, if you never receive another award, another pat on the back, another plaque or another "attaboy" you're effort will be well worth it in the end. Why? Because you've been true to yourself. You've been true to the work ethic that you know is right. You've given your all to something greater than yourself. What I pray for my life and for yours is that we would give our all. Not just to be noticed, to win or be appreciated but because it's the right thing to do. Be encouraged and keep moving forward.