We think my middle son, Nate, is a sports franchise GM in the making. He not only enjoys sports but studies newspaper stats, cards and the internet with tenacity. Plus, his recall and math skills rival Rain Man himself. The thing that may trip him up on this career path (besides the obvious mathematical improbability of this actually occurring) is an early predilection for gambling. No, he hasn’t actually gambled, but there are signs.
For example, he recently devised a play-off bracket for recess. He had a sign up sheet and organized how the games would be played, displaying graphically how teams would advance. All appeared to be well until one day I was supervising recess and one normally sporty eight-year-old was hovering by his mother, who was also supervising recess.
“Son,” she asked, “Why aren’t you playing soccer?”
“I didn’t sign up,” he confessed, sadly.
“What do you mean you didn’t sign up? Let’s go in the office and sign you up then,” Mom said.
The child looked up at her confused. “The office doesn’t have the sign up sheet,” he said, “Nate has it.”
I was supervising recess and my son was still so about “the bracket” that he aimed to exclude a buddy of his for not signing up. There are other signs too. He is tremendously difficult to get out of bed in the morning, unless you say something like, “Nate, do you want to know who won the Tigers game last night?” This kind of enticement might as well be an eject lever on the bed. He is up and at ’em instantly. And he’d much rather watch highlights than eat breakfast or attempt any semblance of hygiene.
Last night my husband Will and I went to the annual fundraising dinner for the C.S. Lewis Institute. The Institute has had a huge impact on both of our lives and we attend this event every year. Last night they showcased the Fellows program which I simply cannot recommend highly enough, but they also had a very compelling keynote speaker, Ken Boa. Will and I had met Boa a number of years ago in Ashville, North Carolina and we very much enjoyed hearing this incredibly wise, incredibly educated former Berkeley hippie speak about living for Jesus.
Boa made lots of interesting and thought-provoking points, but one that really struck a cord with me, and that connects so well with Nate and his bundle of potential, is that we are all accountable to God for “faithfulness to opportunity.” I’ve never heard that phrase before but it makes so much sense to me. No one would contend, at least no one who is honest, that everyone has the same opportunities. We are born with different gifts, and our experiences often exacerbate rather than bridge the divide. We should never give up fighting for justice for the oppressed — the Lord requires that we act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Him (Micah 6:8). Yet as individuals we need to guard against comparisons which only lead to feelings of superiority or bitterness. Instead we need to be faithful to the opportunities we’ve been given. God’s ways are not my ways, His thoughts are not my thoughts. I will never know what the future holds for me, for my husband or my sons, but I can try to be faithful to the opportunities that I’ve been given, and help these loves of mine be faithful to theirs.
There is no one else like you. No one in history has had the same set of skills and the same opportunities as you. Don’t compare. Just be faithful. Know that you will be judged not according to what anyone else had or what anyone else wasted, but on what you had. May faithfulness to opportunity be the standard in my life, in my house, and in yours. It’s our unique standard. May we live up to it. Because I long to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Don’t you?