For the love of baseball

“Morning, Mom. Morning, Dad. Did the Royals win last night?”royals

“Yeah, can we watch the highlights?”

With Royals baseball enthusiasts in our house, this is how many mornings between April and October (at least in 2014!) start.

I have learned to love baseball season. It wasn’t my first love, or even my second, but I have come to really enjoy it and how it affects our family; specifically, there are a couple of reasons that I want to encourage my kids in their love of baseball, and especially the Royals.

  • First, their dad loves baseball and the Royals, thus making it a fun father-son/daughter bonding thing.
  • Second, I love the fact that to this point all of our kids have picked the Royals as their team (except on occasion when one ornery kid tries to claim he loves the Cubs). It has built a lot of sibling camaraderie when they all put their Royals shirts on and get excited about an upcoming game. Sweet memories are being made, and I want to encourage it.

So what’s the problem?

Well, if you keep up with baseball you will know that the Royals have had quite a few issues in the last few weeks with being hit by pitches, hitting people with pitches, brawls, and ultimately ejections. It hasn’t been pretty. This post is not at all about what has happened to the Royals but more about how do we respond as parents:

  • Given that our kids go to bed before most night games are over, should we just shelter them from some of the nonsensical fighting that has taken place?
  • Should we give into the temptation to defend the Royals and why their anger towards other teams is warranted (if there even is an argument there?)?
  • Should we just be annoyed and show frustration at the Royals?
  • Should we change our allegiance to the team on the eastern side of the state?

These were some of my questions last week, but mostly I was wondering how do we shepherd our kids through this? Specifically, how do we use these recent past events as a teaching moment in the lives of our kids, because I know if it involves the Royals then they are listening?

First a little family background—one of the things we have tried to do in parenting, specifically with our boys, is to help them from an early age with self-control. Our personal experience has shown that boys struggle a lot with controlling their actions, emotions and body. As a teaching tool, we have worked to get our sons to memorize the proverb, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov 25:28). To hone in on the point, we often add “he will be destroyed.” We have found this verse resonates a lot with little boys because they love anything to do with castles, walls, and destruction. We want our kids to understand that a boy who never learns to control himself will end up as a man who cannot control himself.

So as I am talking to my kids about the events involving the Royals I want to point out that many of these issues hinge around men who have not learned self-control, or at least have had serious lapses. And even more so, I want to help them see that we are often just like these baseball players. Instead of just being annoyed or judgmental towards their behavior, I want to teach my kids and myself to ask good reflective questions:

  • How am I like this person?
  • How am I prone to do similar things?
  • What can I learn from this bad situation?

In asking these questions, I think we start to see that these baseball players are not that different than us in many ways (admittedly maybe on a different level but similar root/heart level). We get angry. We lose our temper. We want retaliation. We misprioritize how important things are (in this instance, the game of baseball).

I want to remind my kids and myself that these are the things that we need to ask God to help us fight because on our own we will never conquer them. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (10:13). I want to talk to them about the need to ask God to help us control our actions, emotions, and body so that we can endure and so we will not be destroyed. I want to start this pattern of thinking now at the ages of 2, 6, and 9 so that with the help of God they will be less issues when they are 22, 36, and 49.

I want to keep loving the Royals. I want to keep encouraging my kids to love the Royals. I want to keep encouraging myself to shepherd my kids well, because it is so hard and so relentless. I want to keep asking God to help us be people who recognize that he cares about the way we control ourselves. He is the God who controls everything, and by extension he is the only one who will help us conquer this lack of control that we are so easily prone to forget—just like our much-loved Royals.

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