There I was, enjoying “the day after” the big win against Duke today and then this picture popped up. Now I can’t stop looking at it. It gripped me the moment I saw it. The more I look at it, the more I see. This is not a story about my obsession with the Tar Heels. It’s not a story about how fond we are of Tyler Hansbrough. Rather it is a story about that often quoted verse from Proverbs 22:6 that most parents can quote “Train up a child in the way they should go and when he is old he will not turn from it”.
At some point in our parenting process, someone somewhere has given us that advice. I’m speaking for myself here, but do I really know what that means? Can I say with confidence that I know exactly how to “train up my child”? That is what captures me about this photo. What you see is a father, a son and a coach. The image was taken on Senior Day which was the last home game for Tyler Hansbrough in a North Carolina uniform. Over the past four years, he has broken numerous records, won personal honors and will go down as arguably one of the best players in NCAA and ACC history. He did it with hard work, hustle, heart and a lot less talent than many players that surround him. It has been an amazing story.
I look at this image and see the pride of a father. I see a dad that was shown regularly in the stands cheering on his son. I see tears of joy in knowing that his son had reached his goals. His face almost screams “congratulations son, you fought the fight, you finished the race”. If you look beyond the two, you see someone else. You see a coach. The image is blurred, but I bet if it wasn’t we would see tears in his eyes too. We’d probably see the same expression and read the same words on his face too. We would see pride.
Isn’t this image a snapshot of training up our children? At some point, Tyler’s mom and dad poured into his life. They instilled in him the heart, the work ethic and the belief that he could (as is often said of Tyler), “do more with less”. Then came a time when they had to release thier son. There came a moment when they had to hand off his training to one that knew more. They allowed his coach to be his guide. When the “game” was over, they were there to share in his victory. They were all there to share in that moment when he reached the summit and all of their time, effort, coaching and investment met.
I might not know what how to train up a child, but I think this image gives us a glimpse. Our call is to raise our children and instill in them values that they will carry beyond our homes. One day, we pray that we will send them off with a “coach” that will continue those values and teach them more than we ever could. We pray that through the careful instruction of the Holy Spirit, our children will reach the full potential of what God has called them to be. That they will “do more with less” and shatter ever goal in front of them. Then one day we will all stand together and share in that moment when they have achieved victory. Not scores, stats or trophies, but the victory in finishing the race and achieving the crown.
That is when we will know what it is to “train up a child”.