I don’t know that much about James Harrison, other than the fact that he was recently called out of retirement to help out with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense. He’s been getting some press recently because of his having returned his two sons’ participation trophies, insisting that a trophy should be awarded for something noteworthy and not for simply participating in an activity.
Here’s what he put on Instagram:
I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy.
I don’t know where James is coming from spiritually, but what he’s saying “preaches.” It’s one thing to encourage someone, it’s another to honor them for something that’s not especially noteworthy.
When King David resolved to worship God in a way that was befitting the One he sought to honor, he was given the option of offering to God something he had been given free of charge. David refused saying, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (1 Chron 21:24). In other words, I’m going to do more than just show up. I’m going to present something that represents a legitimate effort and resonates as “excellent.” I will not expect my King to be satisfied with a token presence and a nominal sacrifice.
What I hear James Harrison saying is the same thing I hear King David saying: There is no substitute for quality. Sacrifice and discipline are the bedrocks upon which noteworthy accomplishments are built and you can’t substitute either one of those with either an expedited process or …
… a trophy.
Doing your best and falling short hurts. But a lot of times, it’s that pain that inspires you to train harder, to study more and to go farther than you would otherwise. Anyone can attend, many people “give,” but it’s those who sacrifice and work beyond their best effort that truly succeed, both in the eyes of man and in the eyes of God (Prov 22:29; Col 3:23).
That’s the kind of thing that’s worthy of a trophy. I’m glad James Harrison ain’t sorry! A person shouldn’t be sorry for reserving awards for those who are truly deserving.