There is something magical about a trophy. It’s like a flag, an symbol, a representation of excellence, hard work, sacrifice. All that it took to gain the award, and this is a benchmark that reminds you of that moment of achievement. This is your trophy.
I run an organization that trains young people to compete in academic speech and debate (see www.trainingminds.org). The art – arguably a sport – of forensics. I pool the greatest forensics coaches in the nation and run camps and write curriculum that trains junior high and high schoolers how to think, speak, and persuade.
Talk about excellence! These kids are the sharpest kids in the world. I’m telling ya, if you have a chance to attend a speech and debate tournament – and you see these suited up teenagers all proper and professional and polite and groomed – it’ll give you hope for the future.
There is a lot of grumbling about the future generation, the X and Y and Z generations, of postmodernism and apathy and whatever attitudes. Not these kids. Those who “train the mind for action” train in the arts of pathos, logos and ethos at a young age – just you wait to see them take over this world in the years to come.
I used a Bible verse there, perhaps you didn’t catch it. It isn’t that well known; it comes from 1 Peter 1:13, “Train the mind for action.” You may have heard of 1 Peter 3:15, “Always be prepared to give a reason for the hope which you have,” and that hope is Jesus Christ. But the earlier verse of 1:13 I believe carries more of a punch.
For the past dozen years we’ve been training these kids at our camps. And we have rocked the final rounds. Time after time our kids end up at the top brackets duking it out in the tournaments. I just love it. They may take home the trophies, but I post the results all over our website to say, “See! See! Our training works.” I’m so proud of our camps and our curriculum.
But let me tell you about what has been stirring in my heart for the past couple years. I suppose I could retire and let our camps grow and expand – and they will! As if, “Yep, I built rockets and now they’re launching like crazy. Great…now onto other things.” To tell you the truth, friends, I have to admit that I’ve been sort of humbled by God, as if his voice has said, “Not just yet.”
See, God is asking me, “Do you really think the trophy is the action?” Really? See, the champions that we’ve been training have been telling me something. Ask any of the champs who have tasted victory if this trophy is it. It collects dust. It’s stored away in a box. And why should it be anything else? It’s a reminder of something that was, not what is.
“Train the mind for action.” We’ve got training down, but I want to launch these competitors into life. It’s like the last dozen years has been pouring the footings, the cement, the launching pad, the control station. We’re just getting started. And we’re wheeling on these rockets – these young fueled up speakers and debaters – to launch into the world and light it up!