Youth league awards banquets are unbelievably humorous. Every person has to get an award. The coach usually starts with the best awards. “‘MVP’ award goes to…Jimmy. ‘Best Offensive Player’ award goes to…Tom. ‘Best Defensive Player’ award goes to…Billy.”
Eventually, the coach runs out of actual awards and starts making up awards.
“And the ‘Longest Time To Occupy The Same Seat On The Bench’ award goes to…Jim. The ‘Most Likely To Trip Over Your Own Two Feet’ award goes to…Tom.”
And here’s the crazy part: the “Most Likely To Trip Over Your Own Two Feet” and the “MVP” awards look exactly the same! What?! I remember getting a team player award (or some garbage like that) and being more humiliated than if I had not received an award at all. Why does everyone receive an award? John can’t even run to 1st base without tripping over himself.
“Well, Frank, every person deserves an award. It is only fair.”
REALLY? Did you borrow that principle from a far off land where unicorns live and rainbows fill the sky? Life taught me something different.
You see, lying underneath the approach to youth league awards ceremonies is a crippling principle called “fairness.”
Where did this idea of “fair” originate?
“Fairness” permeates every area of our lives and culture, and it is instilled in us at a young age. But the world at large does not seem to adhere to this principle. Some people are selected to all star teams…some aren’t. Some get into med school…many do not. Some come down with cancer…some do not. Some are able to get pregnant…some aren’t. Some are born in America and get to enjoy the luxuries of this world…some are born in desolate countries where they die because they do not have clean drinking water. Some children are adopted into loving families and saved from a lifestyle of prostitution and drugs…millions of others around the world will never feel the warm embrace of a loving parent.
What happened to youth league awards ceremonies? I thought everyone received the same treatment? No, youth league awards ceremonies are a perfect example of what it looks like to buy a lie. The reality is life is not fair.
Neither was Jesus.
Jesus wasn’t fair.
Recently, I began looking back through the life and ministry of Jesus. You know what I discovered? Jesus was NOT fair. If anyone was going to set the example of fairness, it would be Jesus. But “au contraire mon frere.” We have example after example of people being healed by Jesus, yet there are many, many more Jesus chose not to heal. Why do a few people have their sight restored while others remain blind?
That’s not fair.
Or what about Jesus spending much of his earthly ministry pouring into ONLY twelve men? I am sure there were hundreds and hundreds of other men and women who could have been changed forever by hearing some of the things these twelve men heard.
That’s not fair.
Or what about the three separate occasions when Jesus chose to ONLY take three men (Peter, James, and John)? The Transfiguration, the healing of Jairus’ daughter, and the Garden of Gethsemane. I mean, why would Jesus not allow all of the disciples to witness the Transfiguration?
That experience must have been incredible. Why only three? C’mon Jesus. Everybody is supposed to get an award.
“Fairness” doesn’t work as a parent.
Maybe we should face the reality…”fair” is not an appropriate filter for us to use in life. Jesus never used it. God never commanded it.
Yet every day we make decisions through the filter of “fair.” Our desire to see every person treated the same cripples us as followers of Jesus. This desire also cripples us as parents. As a parent, am I wrong if I do not treat my kids the same and love them the equally?
I have two boys, and they are vastly different in almost every way. They are uniquely created by God. Because of this, I do not love my kids equally…I love them uniquely. What if we thought good parenting meant treating our kids uniquely instead of fairly? When I try to be fair in every situation, I rob Noah and Micah of the uniqueness given to them by God.
“Fairness” doesn’t work in ministry.
What about ministry? As a minister, I feel pressure everyday to treat everyone the same, regardless of background or situation. But is this in line with the model of Jesus?
If I want to model the ministry of Jesus, I SHOULD spend more time with certain individuals because I see something in them or the Spirit has placed them on my heart to disciple and mentor. The church is no different. Every day leaders refuse to help people or refuse to change a policy that has been in place for years because this is how they handled it with the previous person.
“Frank, if we are going to be fair, we must handle this situation the same way we did previously.”
Maybe it is time for the church to focus more on transforming people and allowing the Spirit to be their guide. Fair seems logical, but this principle breaks down in a hurry. It is rooted in a false sense of logic. Be careful following logic. It’s deceptive.
Andy Stanley uses a phrase in his book, Deep and Wide, that provides us an alternative to the fairness principle.
“Do for one person what you wish you could do for everyone.”
I can’t be a parent to the more than 153 million orphans worldwide. Should that keep me from being a parent to one? Absolutely not. Is it fair? No. Is it right? Yes.
The church can’t fix all the brokenness in the world. The local church can’t even fix all the brokenness in the surrounding community. Should that prevent the church from trying to restore shalom to certain individuals? Of course not. Is it fair? No. Is it right? Yes.
As a minister I can not mentor every person I meet. I don’t have the physical or mental capability to pour into every person. But should that reality keep me from mentoring a few individuals? I do not think so. Is that fair? No.
I could continue this forever. But here is the big finish.
Here’s the point.
We created a culture where everyone operates under the principle of fairness. We transpose this principle onto God. But God doesn’t command us to be fair, and he doesn’t uses fairness as a filter Himself.
If “fair” is the filter we are going to use for God, then the only “fair” thing for Him to do is send us all to hell. Blunt? Yes. Wrong? No. We separated ourselves from Him by our sin. But thankfully God is not fair. He sent His only son to redeem and reconcile us. The only fair thing is death. Everything else in this life is a gift from God.
The fairness principle is something we created. We created it because we want to keep everybody happy. We created it because we want every person to live in peace. We believe if we are fair the world will come together and everyone will live happily ever after.
What if we tried something different?
What if we tried something different? What if we did for one person what we wish we could do for every person? What if we decided to love our children uniquely and not equally? Would things be different? I believe the world would be rocked to the core. This shift would result in people being transformed. It would result in more leaders and change makers. It would result in more children having parents. It would result in more people knowing that hope rests in God alone.
Maybe that is why God never commanded us to be fair…it hinders the world from seeing Him.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!