To the boy who got a Bronze Certificate at the Speech Festival

Dear mortified you

We felt your desperate shame. There were moms in the audience Googling stammered words from your poem – to find it – to prompt you – to rescue and redeem your moment.

You won’t remember me but I was the adjudicator. I did my best to diffuse the glare of awkward with, Don’t worry sweetie! Have a seat and you’re welcome to try again just now.

You did. You tried again. And failed again. And though you scored high on courage, that Bronze Certificate was a generous offer.

We live in a weird era where everyone’s a winner and no one’s feelings should ever get hurt. But it sets us up for failure when our perceptions of our abilities are skewed by over-praise. It doesn’t help you kids if us grownups coo ‘Good job!’ because you swallowed your food or breathed in and out all day.

Of course, the every-kid-gets-a-trophy culture has evolved for fear of the dangerously low self-esteem that comes from attaching our worth to our achievements or others’ opinions of us.

Except, I wasn’t evaluating you. I was evaluating just your performance of just one poem on just one day.

Your worth isn’t a stamp on a certificate.

Your worth is a stamp on your heart.

But it’s made me ask,

If all of life were a poem to recite, how would we score?

How would we score on tone of voice and eye contact? What would we get for pace – for going too fast – not. pausing. at the right. moments? How would we score on volume? Were we too LOUD when we should have toned it down, too soft when we should have spoken up?

If we’re honest, if life were a poem to recite? We’d mostly all get Bronze.

Or one lower, Blue.

Or Beige, if that was a category.

But Jesus – when He delivered all the words of all His years – He got a Gold++, right? Perfect pitch, intonation, pace and audience engagement.

At the cross, He took all our lack of preparation, our too-loud and too-soft, our too-much and our not-enough, our apathy and immaturity. He was embarrassed on our behalf. Our shame hung all over Him – as if it were His – before a sniggering world. He got the Bronze – the Blue – the Beige Certificates that should have been ours.

And He handed over to us His Gold++.


(Photo credit: Huffington Post)

Not so we could brag, or chill out in complacency or mediocrity. But so that we’d live out all the words, actions and attitudes of the rest of our lives with an excellence born of gratitude, freedom and joy, trusting Jesus to do in us what we could never do ourselves.

What I’m saying is this –

Make the most of every opportunity. For next year’s Speech Festival? Choose a great poem. Practise over and over and over until you think you’ve practised enough, then practise some more. Savour the flavour of every word as you set it free into the audible world.

And then, relax.

Because the Bronze, the Silver, the Gold – none of those define your earthly purpose or your eternal destiny.

There’s Gold++ rhythm and rhyme written on your heart and waiting to be lived, like a boss.

With love and respect,

Dalene Reyburn

. . .

So lovely to have you visiting here. Please share this post if you know a kid (or his parents) who may be encouraged. You can also get in touch here, on Twitter, or on our Facebook community page.

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