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  • Katie Smith

Team Captains: a tribute to good dads


Some people just like to compete to make things "more interesting." My oldest son creates competitions out of everything, and of course, within his first-born nature and smaller siblings, he always wins. After a field day at school, I asked how his team did, and he responded, "Well I don't think we won, but it wasn't my fault." Apparently his team was not "the best," but he did "great!"


If you have a child like this, the comment sounds par for the course. People who refuse to lose, are better if they struggle on their own. Teammates can hold them back. My husband may have passed this baton to our son. As a golfer, he would rather be angry at himself for losing than feel that his teammate was to blame. He wants to take full responsibility whether in the credit or in fault. There's no halfsies in single sports. There's also no one to blame-shift.


Marriage is not an individual sport though. It's, in effect, a team sport with two players. Twelve years into our "team" commitment, and I see something very valuable in my single-sport partner. After he has signed up for a team, the father of my kids will NEVER ever quit. If he makes a commitment he will stand by his team until the end.


Like marriage, when you sign up to be a dad, you can't quit the team. You have to stay committed for the entirety of the season, which happens to run year-round with no finish line. For this reason, many people do in effect give up parenting roles. The training feels too difficult and the finish line is too far away. These players leave mid-season. We affectionately call these men "deadbeat dads."


While moms often quit too, I'm focusing on the team-captain here. Our western culture and individualistic nature has made it too easy to justify quitting . Today if you don't like your team, you can sit on the bench and eat snacks while receiving a trophy at the end of the season. You can also quietly quit without any repercussions--you may even receive a standing ovation from the patrons as you walk off the field in the name of freedom. We don't huddle around a team anymore because we don't live in villages dependent on one another for survival. We live for our own truth and disregard how this affects the whole of families. But it's beautiful and humbling when you see a man who prefers to do things on his own, yet welcomes the challenge of working as a team. We affectionately call these players "heros."


Even though our family didn't join any teams this past season (and this is shocking for Americans), the father of my boys shows us all how to work as a team. Even when we don't agree on something in the "playbook," he shows us the importance of sticking together as a team and seeking to serve each other before ourselves. There's no one I'd rather root for then the hard-working team captain. If he can learn to work with all the different personalities under one roof, then we all should be able to do the same.


I wrote this about our team captain four years ago when we were in the thick of our season opener with 4 under 5:


We in the "strong woman" era need to learn the strength of meekness, while tapping into the power of omnipotent strength. Our husbands won't have the opportunity to grow as leaders and protectors if we are always vying for the position.
They need to see a dad who dares to disregard his wife's ability to keep the ship afloat with her own two hands. They need a dad who knows how to be gentle with the fairer sex while encouraging her strengths. They need a dad who can be present, engaging, and thoughtful even when his outside world of work has his thoughts preoccupied. They need a dad who can be both stern and scary when it comes to sin, yet compassionate and humble in his own imperfections. They need a dad who never stops growing with them--one who not only takes care of his home, but his own heart.

Our perfect father in Heaven taught us how to lay down our glory, or our perception of winning, and view the future of the team. Today we should work for a prize that we didn't earn-- a prize that will never perish. "Everyone who competes goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Cor. 9:25). In the same way that a true athlete takes care of his whole body and his whole team, a real man is a team player until his season is officially over.


So whether you have a deadbeat dad or a hero at home, don't look for ways to rebuke or reward him. Rather, encourage leadership by holding strong to your own commitments.

What a different world it would be if we all stayed true to our commitments and teammates.... Here's to all the great team captains out there! Happy Father's Day!



~Carefully and Carelessly team-building

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