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« Bits of Wisdom | Main | A Jesus Sighting »

Pampered or Prodded?

pampers.jpg “Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age.” Hebrews 5:14

PampersTM, the twenty-first century word for diapers, recently came roaring back into my life with the birth of MaKinzie Manning Jordan, the world’s number one granddaughter. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t actually had to personally…you know, but I’ve been in the same room and shared the experience, with all its attendant sounds, smells and conversation. From what I can tell, Kinzie loves them. And why wouldn’t she? Soft, cottony, sealed to keep the wetness in. After all, Pampers are for babies. That’s why the name fits so well.

However …(however, as in “forget what you’ve read up to this point”) it will be a cruel, cool day in winter of next year…or the spring of the following year, when the baby who invented the word “beautiful” is going to feel the rumblings of a shift in the game plan. All this coo-coo, goochie-goochie, Moma’s sweet little sugar-girl…all this stuff is going to taper off. In its place, a gruffer tone of voice and new instructions will grow in intensity. We call it “potty training” in our particular culture. It is a nightmare. It’s the one thing, aside from the trauma of childbirth, that probably keeps a lot of people from parenting in the first place, or at least purposefully repeating the performance. Psychologists point to the ordeal of potty training as a major cause of extreme personological disorders and dysfunctional behaviors later in life.

But it has to be done, and at an early age. High school is no place for potty training. (Alright, I hear that snickering in there and I want it to stop!) Pampering continues only for those who have serious problems. At a certain age, you have to give up the tee shirt that says “I DON’T HAVE TO BE GOOD BECAUSE I’M SO CUTE.”  When you get to that stage in life, the pampering has to stop. Like it or not, the rest of the world expects you to start doing stuff on your own. In addition to all the personal hygiene activities, you have to get up early, dress yourself, feed yourself, go to school or work, do your homework, pay your bills and otherwise work yourself into being a fully self-sufficient, responsible adult.

Why? Well, first, nobody wants to be bothered with taking care of an adult who is physically and mentally capable of self care! But second, a pampered person never gets anywhere in life. You will never manage the achievements, the rewards, the trophies or all the good things in life if you need to be pampered before you try anything. Not one championship boxer was pampered into the winners’ ring. Not one baseball team was pampered into the World Series. Not one football team was pampered into the Superbowl. Not one high school valedictorian or salutatorian was pampered into their high success level. Not one college basketball team was pampered into the Final Four.

Individuals and teams who break through into the big arenas are not pampered, but prodded. Some manager, some coach, some owner had to thump someone in the chest with an index finger and say, “I don’t care what your name is or what you did last year. You either hit the track or hit the road.” Somebody had to scream in the prospective champion’s ear, “I’m not putting up with your whining and your nonsense. You may be the most talented athlete in the world, but you’re not worth a plug nickel if you don’t give me one hundred and ten percent in practice, not just in the field!” They know that superior talent with inferior work ethics lead to dismal failures. More often than not, inferior talent with superior work ethics lead to strong competition, and many times to victories. And, almost without fail, superior talent coupled with superior work ethics leads to championships. It is one of the most amazing principles you’ll ever discover: Prodding works better than pampering.

In the church, few things are more galling than to see those who are loaded with talent sitting idly by, failing to develop their God-given gifts. God has not only called pastors to challenge people to do their best, but also to prod them if they don’t. Pastors continually assess the potential of those God has called them to serve. When they see a promising talent choked off with laziness, apathy, preoccupation, negativity, dishonesty or some other debilitating problem, they say and do whatever necessary to get that person back on track. And, prodding is not just for those who do nothing; it is even more important for those who are doing good. Jesus said, “Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:2).

Are you waiting for someone to pamper you? I had a phys. Ed. teacher in Junior High school who always said, “Get your thumb out of your mouth and get going!” Maybe you need the same kind of prodding. Idleness is pathetic for those who know what God has called them to do. Stop pleading ignorance, lack of motivation, lack of time and uncertainty. Nobody will be pampered into spiritual success, revival, growth or blessing. Shake a leg.

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