Smart People, Demanding People.
Opening Question: Who is the smartest person you personally know? What makes this person so smart?
First Reading: Proverbs 31:10, 12, 20, 26, 28, 31.
Mom's are really smart people. Sometimes Mom's are the smartest people in the world. When we get sick or hurt, they help us feel better. When we make a mistake, they help us correct it. They help us with homework, snacks for school and scouts, and all the extra things we do. Moms become team moms and coaches. Some moms work, some moms stay at home. But moms always take the time to make us feel special.
Moms ask a lot from us, because they know we can do it. You see, their job is to help us to help ourselves. Our chores become steps to grow up. Our responsibilities become steps to take on more responsibilities. Moms help us, encourage us, demand from us. But their always want the best for us.
Where do moms learn all that stuff? There's no mom school that I know of. Moms know all that from their hearts and their lives.
Let's remember our moms, the smartest people in the world.
Bridging Question: Have you ever had a mean teacher or coach? Did you learn anything from them? What did you learn?
Jesus said to his followers
The Kingdom of God is like this story. As a rich man planned a long journey, he called his employees together and gave them the power to invest his money. He gave each employee the amount of money the rich man thought each one could handle. The rich man gave one employee five bags of money. The man gave another employee two bags of money. The man gave the last employee one bag of money. Then the rich man left.
Right away, the employee with five bags went out, invested the money, and doubled it. The man with two bags did the same thing and doubled his money. But, the man with one bag went out and buried the money in the ground.
After a long time, the rich man returned and talked to them about the money they invested. The one who invested the five bags of money approached the rich man first. "Here are another five bags of money," he said, as he handed all the money back to the rich man.
"Congratulations!" the rich man exclaimed. "Because you did well in this small matter, I will promote you! Let's celebrate together!"
The employee who invested two bags of money approached the rich man next. "I doubled your money!" the employee said.
"Great!" the rich man shouted. "Because you did well with this small matter, I will promote you, too! Let's celebrate!"
The employee who hid the bag he received approached the rich man last. "Sir," the employee said, "I know you're a tough man. You take crops you did not plant and grain you did not process. I was afraid. So, I hid your money in the ground. Here it is."
"You lazy man!" the rich man replied. "You knew I took crops I did not plant and grain I did not process. You could have at least put my money in the bank. Then, when I went to withdraw the money, I could have received interest on it." The rich man turned to another employee and said, "Take the money from him and give it to the man with ten bags of money. For, the person who has a lot will get more until it's more than enough. But the person who doesn't have much will have the little he owns taken from him. Now, throw that worthless employee outside into the dark night where people cry and grind their teeth."
Mark was not happy to hear that Mr. Hawkins would be his new soccer coach. Last year, Mr. Hawkins' team won the championship. But, no one on his team wanted him as a coach again. Mr. Hawkins only played the best players. He didn't care about the rest of his team.
At the first practice, Mr. Hawkins made himself clearly understood. "I coached to win," Mr. Hawkins screamed. "I will do what it takes to win. I will yell at you, embarrass you, and run right over you. Complain to your parents, if you want to. They won't care when I start winning games. If you are too weak to win, too sensitive to stand it, leave now! I only have time for winners!"
Mark thought he could take it. Practice was tough, the coach was tough. Mark wanted to win. Doesn't every player want to win? More than winning, Mark just wanted to hang out with his friends on the team. That wasn't going to happen.
After two weeks of practice, Mark was very discouraged. The coach had yelled at his friends and him. He called them names, told them they didn't know how to play, claimed he had the worst team he ever coached. One of his friends ran home crying after Mr. Hawkins screamed, "I'm benching you for the season! You're not good enough to play on my team!" Playing soccer was not fun anymore.
Mark thought he was working hard and doing his best. At the first game, Mark scored two goals by half time. And the team was winning 6-0. But that wasn't good enough for the coach. "You guys are just lucky. You're play is weak. You should be losing! I don't want your best effort. I want you to win. Win big! My teams always win big!"
The final score was 14-0. The coach smiled at two players who scored the most goals. But, then, coach turned to Mark and sneered, "You should have scored more, kid. Do better next time."
That season, Mark did become a much better soccer player. But, no matter how hard he tried, Mark could not please the coach. At the team's soccer banquet, the dinner that celebrated a perfect winning season, the coach said something nice about everyone but Mark. The coach said, "This trophy is for Mark. He showed up for every practice."
Mark learned a lesson that season. His team won. And all the players knew Mark did his best. But sometimes, his best was not good enough. Some people, like Mr. Hawkins, just want more.
The gospel was about a man who always wanted more and more. That's all he cared about. The man who tried to play it safe didn't do a good enough job. The man wasn't fair.
Sometimes, our best is not good enough. In stead of compliments, we hear complaints. But, remember that God works with our best. And, like Mark, we can become better at what we do. God is there to help us along.
Closing Question: Have you ever met someone who gave up because they did not believe they were good enough? How can you encourage that person to try again?