“Ogre” is Cameron’s nickname, affectionately given by his teammates on the White County High School Warrior baseball team where I’m honored to serve on the coaching staff. Why “Ogre?” It could be the 6 foot plus frame that looms at you from first base or it might be the no-nonsense scowl he wears consistently on the field. Yet I think he’s given the moniker “Ogre” because everyone knew he had the potential to blast two powerful homeruns in one game, wielding his bat like a deadly caveman club. Thus we witnessed the heartwarming progress toward the potential of Cameron Beasley on Tuesday night in Crossville as the Warriors trounced district opponent Stone Memorial Panthers by a score of 11-0. For a full recap of the game, visit the news section at www.wchswarriorsbaseball.com. But this message isn’t about baseball. It’s about the need for teachers, coaches, and fathers to understand the often overlooked concept of development.
Like many other men and women in my life, I’ve been guilty of stifling development of young players like “Ogre”, students in my classroom, and even my own children as I let my perfectionism and anger rule. Too often we adults get caught in poking, prodding, and pushing children toward 100% achievement, acting as though anything less than perfection is a failure. I vividly remember standing in mom’s kitchen at 11 years old beaming with joy as I proudly presented my report card filled with straight A’s. Back then, you had to achieve a 95% to gain that prized letter grade, which is exactly what I received in math during that 6 week period of grading. Mom’s reply quenched my proud fire and my intense desire to achieve when her only response to my Dean’s List score was, “You can do better.”
Unfortunately, at times I’ve fallen guilty of expecting the same perfection out of my own children. Even more depressing is that I’ve witnessed my older children struggle with the same perfectionistic treatment of their siblings. We’ve all seen that teacher who is impossible to please unless you are hitting a perfect test score. Coaches consistently berate players, as they “just want them to reach their potential.” Parents give no praise for development but only criticize performance, making that car ride away from games seem like forever in the eyes of a developing child.
I wonder what would have happened to Peter, the great church leader of the first century, if Jesus hadn’t recognized him as a developing disciple in his three-year earthly ministry? Would Peter have preached that life changing sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) if Jesus would have scowled and berated him when he looked that the wind and the waves and fearfully began to sink after walking on water (Matthew 14:30)? Would Peter have faithfully healed the lame man in the temple (Acts 3:7-11) if Jesus had severely punished him for his denials (Luke 22:61) instead of using those mistakes for his development (John 21:17)? Would Peter have chosen to be something different than the peaceful apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1) if Jesus had disavowed him rather than developing him for Peter’s passionately mistaken rebuke of Jesus (Mark 8:32)? Yes, Peter made some big bumbling errors as recorded in history by multiple witnesses, but Jesus knew how to best develop Peter into the future church leader that has changed our lives today.
Here are a few development-focused ideas from the heart of a father, teacher, and coach who is still developing toward my own potential.
1) Just as Jesus knew that people are imperfect, so we too need to remember that our young learners will make mistakes. Often we forget that we too missed some easy problems on our math tests. Our vision of days past are foggy as we forget that we were also kids who struggled with our anger, our words, and our work-ethic. Our remembrances often dwell on our glory days smacking homeruns, rather than on our many groundouts, pop-flies, and strike outs that led to the monumental moments. Don’t expect them to be perfect, but do give them attainable goals of developing from their mistakes.
2) Just as Jesus knew how to give appropriate praise for small successes (remember Peter’s proclamation in Matthew 16:16), so we too need to weigh carefully our criticisms and praises. The Harvard Business Review found that the highest performing teams give each other more than five positive comments for every criticism levied on a teammate. A wizened older teacher once gave me the wisdom of the “sandwich method” ahead of my first parent-teacher conferences when she shared, “Always begin and end your conference with a praise of student’s success while sandwiching the constructive criticism in-between.”
3) Just as Peter has patience with erring Christians who are struggling in their faith (1 Peter 2:1-6), so we also need to be patient with the ups and downs of the progress of our learners knowing that patience, rather than expecting perfection, is one of the best tools we have in our progress toward maturity (James 1:2-4).
I thought about these things when I witnessed senior Cameron “Ogre” Beasley hit his first homerun of his high school career on Tuesday night in his first at-bat. He then walloped his second homerun on a 0-2 count in the top of the third. His third plate appearance, though, saw a strikeout that might draw harsh criticism from others. “Ogre” if you’re reading this, know that the WCHS Warrior Baseball staff is proud of you and the progress you’ve made. You’ve come a long way from the one-dimension frustrated hitter you used to be. That strikeout is evidence that we’ve got some work still to do, so continue to learn from it and grow. Your future looks bright in baseball, in life, and in heaven as you continue to develop toward your potential in Jesus.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in trials, be constant in prayer.” – Romans 12:12
The word “forte” comes from the latin word “fortis” meaning strength. Our weekly Family Forte article in The Expositor is the effort of family at Central Church of Christ to give your family the love, care, and attention it needs to become a stronger version of itself. If we can help you in any way, please contact us at Central Church of Christ through email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through our website, www.spartacoc.com.