I love to support our daughter’s school, teachers, classmates, and entire educational atmosphere.

I loathe school fundraisers.

This can make for a complex arrangement.  We have been in school for about 12 weeks now and have been assaulted (oh, that may be too strong), I mean “invited” to participate in two different fundraisers.

My number one complaint associated with these fundraising efforts is not the concept of selling itself.  I am not offended by “ABC” (Always Be Closing).  There is benefit to learning how to approach people, speak with them respectfully, and persuasively.  The business world revolves around the ability to successfully convince others that what you have is worth  their attention and the best choice.

It is these dang “prizes” your kid gets based on money earned.  The kids completely miss the point of why they are fundraising, and the benefit that comes from their efforts.  They become more focused on what they could get in return, which fosters self centeredness, and what others win, which fosters covetousness.  And suddenly, I am called to my parenting A-game.

Oh, wait, being called higher is not a bad thing.  So maybe I am not as opposed to this life lesson process as I thought.  Because of these fundraisers, I was given the opportunity to explain to our 5 year old that sometimes you’re the kid who doesn’t win the prize.  This fact doesn’t diminish effort, or heart, or the special uniqueness that God uses to create each person.  Our kids really don’t need more inflatable balls because somebody just shelled out 70 bucks, they need to know  their value is in who they are made to be, and not how they perform based on what they can get out of it.

And our kids don’t need more stuff because they see their friends get more stuff and want it too.  Oh, how I am preaching to myself.  Was I tempted to rearrange some expenses so she could get that $70 dollar ball?  Yes.   (What in the world, boy do we lose our rationalization skills for our kids sometimes?!)  The reality is, as parents, we are called to character shaping decisions daily, sometimes by the moment.  It can all be very overwhelming at times.  Parenting is a no joke adventure that is decades long and takes lots of prayer, discernment, clarity, coffee, confession, and support.  Parenting is knowing and allowing your kid to not get the prize, not have the spotlight, and not be the star.  At least in one context.

Sometimes you’re the kid who doesn’t win the prize.

Yet, In God’s eyes, you are his most valued prize.

Because of how God parents us.  We are loved and treasured and His, and this motivates our living, and this is our great reward.    We don’t really need ‘participation trophies’ to stroke our egos when we know that our true value lies in our connection to the Creator. Being this creation,  we are spurred on to help, support, and good deeds.  I pray our schools and educators feel our utmost support. The tricky things is – the root of this support starts on the heart level – which can be far trickier than stroking a pen across a check.   I was so encouraged by my hubby lately who volunteered his time to try and help our daughter’s kindergarten teaching team with some STEM projects.  (He is the same voice of reason who confirmed my suspicion that spending a lot of money on a fundraiser so our kid could be encouraged by a prize was not the best use of resources).

Monetary support is needed and fantastic.  I can’t be so naïve to think there is not a place for it.  And, when you least expect it, a seemingly simple school fundraising project can turn into a teaching opportunity for both the kids and the parents.

Parents, take heart, as you see those fundraising memos come home in back packs.  Do what you can, and remember what is most important in the long run.  There is greater prize in having courage to instill character values – and this investment lasts longer than any material item.  .