Recently I was walking by a local children’s playground and stopped to watch some of the interactions that were taking place. There were lots of little children around the ages of 3 – 6 years old clambering up, over and on the various pieces of playground equipment and having a great time in doing so. Suddenly, I heard a voice yell loudly above all the other voices in the playground. It came from a little boy about 4 years old. It appeared that this little boy had managed to work his way to the top of a climbing frame all by himself. So proud he was, of what he had accomplished, that he was yelling at the top of voice “Look at me!” “Mummy can you see me? I am up here” “Look at me, look how high up I am. Look at how good I am!”.
Of course his mother who was sitting close by responded accordingly by saying “Wow, look at you all the way up there. Great job”. The little boy was beaming with pride at his mother’s acknowledgement of his accomplishment and he continued “I did it all by myself Mum. Keep watching and I’ll do it again”.
As I left the playground and continued my walk it struck me that there is something that seems to be in the heart of each one of us that longs for some level of recognition of our accomplishments. When we do something good, something that we are proud of, deep down we want the people that we care about to see it, to know about it and to recognise it. Now while 4 year-old children seem to have no problem in articulating this expectation to those around them, unfortunately it seems the older we get, the more we try to downplay the joy and excitement we should be feeling when we achieve something great. Despite this, I am convinced that we all have that child-like desire to have our achievements acknowledged just like this young boy on the climbing frame.
I enjoy going to our Junior School Awards assemblies at Cedars. I love to see the responses of our youngest students when their name is called out to receive their award. They stride up to the stage purposefully, glancing around to make sure parents, friends and teachers are watching as they proudly grasp their certificate and with a beaming smile of pure delight, hold it up for everyone to see. This is their very own “look at me” moment and they want everyone to know it.
The challenge for the rest of us is to embrace that same level of freedom in celebrating our successes with those around us. If we are honest with ourselves, I think there would be very few people who don’t enjoy being recognised in some way for their achievements. Whether it is public acknowledgment like an awards assembly or a quiet word of recognition from a teacher, parent or friend, we like to know that the things we have done well have been noticed.
Truth be told, I still look forward to those “look at me” moments in my life. Even now as an adult with grown up children of my own, I still call my parents from time to time to tell them about some of the things that I have done at work, in sport or in my personal life that I am proud about. I do that firstly, because I want them to know, but also because I want to hear them say “Wow, look at you. That’s great. I’m proud of you!”
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 3:27 not to withhold honour from those who deserve it. This concept is reinforced in the New Testament by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 10:24 where he challenges us to “consider how to encourage each other to show love and do good things”. My hope is that each student at Cedars feels secure enough to both give and receive praise and encouragement when it is due and in doing so we can all proudly celebrate our many successes together as a community.