Celebrations are more than fun; they’re powerful. That’s because you cultivate what you celebrate.
Think about this scenario: You have become a leader in an unhealthy organization. Maybe you’re the coach of a losing sports team. Or an executive in a business that is losing money. Or maybe you are trying to lead a team of volunteers in a ministry in the church. But the organization you are in charge of isn’t functioning well, the people aren’t happy, and the culture of that organization is broken. You know it needs to change, and so you think through all kinds of different strategic moves. But along with that, you change the nature of celebrations.
You know how you want the organization to look, and so that future vision drives what you celebrate now. You lift up people on the team who embody the right characteristics. You point out examples of the right attitude. You rejoice over the small victories that come in the right places. This is one way you can actually influence the culture of an organization. People see what is celebrated, and they come to understand that these characteristics, attitudes, and actions are the most important thing.
You cultivate what you celebrate. It’s true in larger organizations, and it’s also true in our own homes. As parents, we also cultivate what we celebrate.
Now think about what you have celebrated the most whole-heartedly and fully in the lives of your children. Was it a good grade on a test? Was it a good performance on the athletic field? What was the thing that made you stop the forward motion of the family schedule and actually recognize and celebrate it?
It’s at this point that we, as parents, might get a little uncomfortable, because through looking intentionally at what we celebrate we see what we are truly developing in our children. For example, we might say that our highest goal for our children is to come to know and live out the truth of the gospel. But do we celebrate a small example of kindness that shows our children are exhibiting the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives as boisterously as we celebrate the scoring of a touchdown? Do we celebrate the fact that our children are trying to read their Bibles as jubilantly as we celebrate the A they got on their science test? It’s often through our celebrations that we are able to see passed our lip service into what we truly value in the lives of our kids.
Please don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to communicate here – it is good and right that we celebrate with our children when they achieve something in school, sports, or otherwise. But even as we make those celebrations, we ought to be asking ourselves whether our level of celebration is consistent with our true aim for our children. Psalm 127:3-4 has been helpful for me in this respect:
“Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, offspring, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth.”
Is this not the goal? Or at least, should it not be? For us to see our children value Jesus above all things and then for them to be shot our from our homes and churches as His witnesses in the world? I believe it is. And if it is, then one way to develop this attitude in our homes is to celebrate the kind of actions, habits, and attitudes that exhibit this goal.
So think with me, parents, about what gets celebrated in your home. Consider, then, what attitudes and actions those celebrations are cultivating in the little minds and hearts that have been given to our care.