Playing By The Rules

District Fellowship News

November, December 2005


“They’ll learn to play by the rules later”…..

I read those words in an article in “PLUGGED IN”, a wonderful resource for parents and youth leaders from Focus on the Family. The author, Bob Smithouser, was describing a pee wee soccer game where the young soccer players were dribbling the ball farther and farther outside the chalk lines that had been defined as the edge of the field of play. None of the adults in charge were stopping play and drawing the players back into the field. Apparently, they didn’t want to discourage them at this early stage in their careers. Their reasoning was to let them continue for now and…

“They’ll learn to play by the rules later”…..

That could pretty well describe the sentiments of apparently well meaning educators, advisors, and parents today. “Sure I know that there are rules, things they shouldn’t do, lines they shouldn’t cross.” Maybe you have heard statements like, “I don’t want to stifle their curiosity”; “I’ll stunt their emotional growth”; or “I can’t set limits, I can only give suggestions”. The reasoning is to let them choose, let them experiment because..

“They’ll learn to play by the rules later”…..

In Proverbs 22:6(NLT) it says, “Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain on it.” The method to teach someone the right path is not to show them hundreds and hundreds of possible paths without any direction on what the right one would be. You also cannot point out the right path and then just walk away and do nothing if they take a different one. As a parent, or educator, or mentor you lovingly but firmly guide them back to the path whenever they step off. This doesn’t stop as they get older, you continue to guide them back to the path. Many times, we don’t do this because we don’t want the potential conflict, or we aren’t up for the fight. We rationalize that man is basically good anyway so even if we don’t correct it now…

“They’ll learn to play by the rules later”…..

Unfortunately, rebellion in man is strong, (we disguise it as freedom to do whatever we want, a right, our choice), but in the end it comes down to having our own way. Whenever boundaries are set in place we want to step outside of them. A simple example for everyone is speed limits. How many times have you exceeded the speed limit? Do you set your cruise control at 70 in a 65 mph zone? Why? Because you know the officer is probably going to let you get away with being over the limit (playing outside the rules) by a few mph. If there was no law enforcement, only speeds, most people wouldn’t follow the suggestion because they would think they knew better, and they wouldn’t learn to play by the rules later. It can be hard to hold the line on our children, or those around us when we know that just barely stepping over the line usually isn’t harmful, but the truth is God had a reason he set the limits for us that he did. He was protecting us from ourselves. We, as parents, elders, leaders, legislators, judges, citizens, and Christians have a responsibility to enforce guidelines based on God’s word and plan. Because the truth is if we don’t provide that guidance…

“They’ll NEVER learn to play by the rules later”…..