Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Most Improved Award

Have you ever attended the season ending sports team award night?

It's the night when the coaches or parents or someone you don't really know tries to give trophies to as many people as possible.

First, we get the serious awards:
  • Most Runs Scored
  • Highest Average
  • Most Valuable Player

Then, we get to the "others":

  • Best Teammate
  • Most Improved
  • Most Potential
  • Most Encouraging
  • Hardest Trainer
This generosity of awards means it really sucks when all the trophies have been distributed and you're not holding one!

Then there are the league award nights. These mean something. These awards pit your talent and accomplishments against everyone in the competition, not just your own team.

I once won one of these awards many years ago. In the end, that sucked too. No one knew I was going to receive the award, so I didn't attend the league presentation night. I just dropped by someone's house the next week to pick up my trophy. No applause. No photo's. No respect.

But still, it meant something. It justified all the training sessions I'd attended. It confirmed that I'd contributed to the team's success. It encouraged me to keep playing the next year.

On July 15 ESPN hosted the ESPYS: which might be the largest sports awards event in the United States. They handed out 37 different awards. Perhaps you heard about Caitlyn Jenner receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. That was only one headline from the evening.  You can view the total list of awards and recipients HERE.

On Sunday I attended an awards event with a difference. A local church had a special worship service to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. During the service they made several presentations including:
  • The Lifetime Achievement Award
  • The Most Improved Award
These awards and plaques were given to church members.

My immediate response was to laugh a little. I'd never seen a Most Improved award at a church before. But then I began thinking....

I've been around many Christians who are reluctant to give compliments for fear it will give the recipient a big head. We don't want to cause a brother to stumble from pride now, do we?

On the other hand, this type of public recognition can provide wonderful encouragement.

Do you ever feel like you're plugging away in a ministry and no one recognises you? Of course, you do it for God, not for personal acclaim, but it sure helps to know our efforts are appreciated.

Have you ever seen a young Christian growing in faith and long for others to encourage them and get involved in their lives? Maybe a public award isn't such a bad thing.

I know a fairly large church that had a practice of awarding a "Servant's Towel" once a month to recognise members who had faithfully served God in that congregation. I imagine in a smaller church it might happen once a quarter or once a year because awards really do lose their significance when everyone receives one.

Isn't it interesting how often Christians talk about Jesus washing his disciples feet in John 13 and no one thinks, "I bet Jesus is going to get a big head knowing that Christians are going to be talking about this act of service for thousands of years to come! John should have left this out of his Gospel so that it would be 'true service', anonymous and unappreciated."

I'll close with these words from Hebrews 3:13,
Encourage each other every day—for as long as we can still say “today”—so none of you let the deceitfulness of sin harden your hearts.
Are there people in your church you would like to give an award? Are there people working hard who could benefit from your encouragement? Are there great ministries taking place that need a little more awareness in the congregation?

Be an encourager and defend the hearts of those you love.

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