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Advice from a parent: Seek the true prize in LTC, Lads to Leaders

Pressure is mounting — and panic is setting in — as the big day approaches. Coaches are stressed out, parents are worn out and the expectations that their child will earn gold are beginning to waver.

Tonya Patton | Inside Story

No, I’m not talking about the Olympics. That was months ago.
This is the run-up to Leadership Training for Christ — when thousands of kids from Churches of Christ gather in convention centers to demonstrate their skills in categories from song leading to visual art and match wits in Bible knowledge competitions.
There are venues across the U.S. (see our list) and even one in New Zealand. Thousands more participate in similar events sponsored by Lads to Leaders/Leaderettes.
As a parent of two children in LTC for their eighth year, I know that the process is spiritually uplifting … and exhausting. Now, in the final days, our filters quit working and our raw emotions begin to show.

Caught up in the competition, I find myself and fellow parents losing focus on what truly matters. Often, the emotions welling up inside us do not honor God, nor do they show a Christlike love to those around us.

It’s the perfect time to step back, take a deep breath and remind ourselves what this is supposed to be about.
I love LTC. I love the passion that created a program where students dig into Scripture and use a variety of creative outlets to retell the truths of God’s Word. I love that the program is based on living, acting, and loving like Christ.
But, as I’ve delved deeper and deeper into involvement with LTC, I have realized that image isn’t always reality. Caught up in the competition, I find myself and fellow parents losing focus on what truly matters. Often, the emotions welling up inside us do not honor God, nor do they show a Christlike love to those around us.
And our kids — the ones we’re doing this for — are watching.

A snippet from a recent bulletin of the Georgetown Church of Christ about the congregation’s LTC efforts. (PHOTO VIA GEORGETOWNCOC.ORG)

A few years ago, I had the incredible opportunity to serve as an LTC coordinator for the Georgetown Church of Christ in Texas. I could not have asked for a more supportive group of elders, youth ministers and parents (not to mention my long-suffering husband). The opportunity handed to me was tremendous, despite the long hours.
My fellow coordinator, Kristy Cain, urged me to stay on my knees in prayer as we coached our church’s youths for the event. We met weekly to pray for each of the coaches and participants by name — nearly 100 altogether. We prayed for insight and wisdom to handle the many personalities and challenges that come with orchestrating a large group working toward a common goal.
We prayed that relationships would remain intact after the convention. We prayed that we would appreciate each person involved in a new way. We prayed that God would be honored by our actions — and our attitudes.
We wanted those looking in to see God at work in each one of us.
Since LTC happens on Easter weekend, we encouraged our coaches to finish their prep work a week early so that they, and their kids, could focus on the death, burial and resurrection of our Savior. We asked them to trust God with all the work they had put into the preparation for LTC and focus on the cross.
LTC is a journey to be enjoyed.  It is an opportunity to train our children to face challenges with grace, mercy, humility, trust and submission to God’s will. We all have something to learn from the process — personalities that need refining and eyesight that needs to be refocused.
In this final phase of preparation — whether you’re headed for LTC or Lads to Leaders — may your focus be clearer than ever before. May you love and appreciate in a new way those that God has placed in your path, and may you find a new and deeper love for him.
That’s the real prize you get from these events — and it’s better than gold.

is Advertising Manger for The Christian Chronicle. She and her family will participate in the North Texas Leadership for Christ convention in Dallas with members of the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. SEE A LIST OF VENUES for Leadership Training for Christ and Lads to Leaders/Leaderettes and additional comments in “Voices”.

SEE RELATED STORY“In the Word and on the web, youths prep for convention”

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