Prepare for the right game

Published 8:54 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019

By Nathan Rice

Pretend with me for a moment that this is a front-page article. The headline reads, “Suffolk News-Herald readers challenged.”

The article begins by explaining that the readers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, based out of Ahoskie, N.C., have challenged the readers of the Suffolk News-Herald to a ball game. The prize is a $5 million donation that will be given to various charities located in the city of the winning team.

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It’s my job to organize our team, so I start by giving the dates of the tryout. I share that I have already gotten the Norfolk Tides on board and that Tides manager Gary Kendall will coach and develop those who make the team. We will even be allowed to practice at Harbor Park!

The team is assembled, and we practice frequently. Tides manager Gary Kendall works with each player, and we’re as prepared as we can be with the time allowed.

The day of the game comes, and we head to the stadium. We’re confident. Our starting pitcher can throw a killer curveball, our infield is strong, and our coach has improved the swing of every one of our batters.

We’re confident, that is, until we see the stadium at which we’ll play. A football gridiron lies before us instead of a baseball diamond. We prepared for the wrong game!

Can you imagine the looks I would receive from the players who had worked so hard to prepare for the game? What would the Tides manager say about me? I don’t even want to think what the headline of the Suffolk News-Herald would be the next day! It was my job to prepare the team, and I had prepared everyone for the wrong game.

This is a fictional scenario, but I hope it causes us to examine how we are preparing our children for the lives that lie before them.

Too often, we focus on things that aren’t the most important, and we sacrifice the things that really matter. Sometimes we prepare our children for the wrong “game.”

It’s easy to happen, and I don’t think we do it on purpose. We let the culture around us dictate the things that are most important, and we prepare them diligently for those things.

Most of the time, however, the things our culture pushes as critical aren’t the most important. Our culture highlights athletic ability, intelligence, money and power. It tells us that these things are more important than anything else.

It’s good to help our kids in their chosen endeavors, such as sports or theater. We should encourage them and help them in these areas, but we often sacrifice other important things for these pursuits.

For example, we sacrifice church services for little league games and fall ball. We give up Bible studies in the name of rehearsals and practices. We spend more time preparing them for temporary achievements than we do encouraging their eternal soul.

We work with our students to help them earn the best grades possible, and this is important. We should help them have the best education possible. Sometimes, though, we work so much on education that we run out of time to teach them how to respect their teachers and be kind to their classmates. Why does it seem that we are more concerned with grades than we are with behavior?

We work hard to raise children who can earn a lot of money or become great leaders, but we often do so at the cost of raising children who have respect, patience and kindness towards all people. We’re preparing them for the wrong things.

I’m not suggesting that we can’t do both. We can raise well-rounded children who are stars in little league and who have been given a firm spiritual foundation. It is possible to help children make the honor roll and be well-mannered, kind and loving. It’s possible, but it must be done purposefully.

We put a lot of effort into raising our children. Let’s make sure we’re preparing them for the right things.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at