Tonight was a really special night for our church family. Our 4th and 5th grade boys led our evening worship service. At Mayfair, our young men spend a few months working through a Leadership Training class on Wednesday nights, learning to lead in a corporate worship assembly. After weeks of preparation, tonight was the BIG NIGHT. Our worship center was buzzing with lots of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings, all eager to cheer on our young men.
This is always a highlight, a night that I look forward to all year long. But this year was especially significant because it was the first year that my oldest son, Joshua, was a participant. When I heard that he was going through the Leadership Training on Wednesday nights, I wondered what he would sign up to do but I didn’t want to pressure him. He eagerly told me after the first night that he planned on leading a prayer and preaching one of the 3-5 minute sermons. Of course, I was excited. And nervous!
Joshua immediately knew that he wanted to speak on the topic of perseverance or, in his words, “never giving up.” This is a huge theme around our house. Sunny and I have preached the virtues of perseverance to our children from day one. At various times — on the ball field, on family hikes in the Smoky Mountains, while working on math homework — we drill into our kids that quitting just is not an option. We want to raise kids that have the ability to cope when things don’t go their way and the fortitude to bear up under pressure.
Well, tonight Joshua used our family mantra — and several of the examples I listed above — as fodder for his first sermon. He talked about how Jesus faced opposition from the Pharisees, wicked men that wanted to destroy Him. Yet, He never gave in to the temptation to throw in the towel. Instead, Jesus did the hard thing, the tough thing — He stayed true to God’s mission of love in order to make redemption possible. Even redemption for Pharisees. (Those are Joshua’s words, not mine.)
My son also pointed out that Jesus demonstrated extreme perseverance in the garden of Gethsemane prior to His death, praying, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Rather than lashing out at those who wanted to harm Him, Jesus persevered because of His trust in God’s plan, His trust that God’s way was the only way. (Again, not my words.)
Joshua told a story about what was a formative experience for him: hiking in the woods with his brother and me. A few years back, I took the boys on a hike in the Smoky Mountains. After a while, their little legs started to wear down and they wanted to head back to the car. But we had a little “man talk” together and I gave them my best Vince Lombardi halftime speech: “Boys, we don’t give up. That’s not what we do.” The boys rallied and we made it to the top of the trail to see, in Joshua’s words, “the most beautiful God-made waterfall I’ve ever seen!”
Never Give Up. Those words have new meaning for me now, having heard them preached back to me from my son. You make me proud, Joshua. Keep letting your light shine.
And never give up, son.