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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The "Kiffin Syndrome"

You knew that, being a sports fan, I had to address the shocking news about Lane Kiffin. (He was the head coach for one year at the University of Tennessee and left, while under contract, to coach at Southern California). While I hurt for UT after Kiffin's decision (this is hard for a Georgia fan to admit), I've got to join a growing chorus of voices who are alarmed about a much deeper problem.

It seems like every time you turn around, you're seeing another example of someone not keeping their word. In fact, contracts (legally binding documents) are no longer of any value. As bad as I think this is for college football (and other sports as well), I think it sends a far worse message to the kids who hold up these men and women as their idols.

How hard is it for me as a parent to encourage my kids to be people of their word when they are constantly shown examples of how it "pays" to lie? In fact, you see examples of this every where you turn...in sports, in politics, in business, in politics (did I say that twice?).

The Bible has much to say about this. God made it clear that only words of truth should be expected, that our "yes" should be "yes" and our "no" should be "no." God has always dealt forthrightly with us. He expects us to do the same. I know that's hard. I know you don't want to have to tell the truth when it puts you in an uncomfortable situation ("Honey, do I look fat in this dress?") or when it may cost us something ("Did you really agree to pay that much for this service?") but the Bible gives example after example of how honest words lead to a clear conscious and greater blessing in the long run.

Here's where the real issue lies. Most of what our kids learn doesn't come from Lane Kiffin (thank you, Lord) or from bank CEOs or from Presidents. While they do see them as models and examples, I believe the largest contributor to the character of our kids over the long run is...us. My son will learn much more about being a man of his word from how he watches his daddy behave. My daughters are going to learn to tell the truth when they see me telling the truth...in ALL things.

Let this be a reminder to us all. We were given the responsibility of being a parent so that WE could impact our children (wonder what "Daddy Monte" is thinking about Lane's behavior and how it reflects on his parenting). When we defer that responsibility to others, we watch a culture that turns to whatever model is most prominent. Unfortunately, for today, that's Tiger Woods and Lane Kiffin. However, it's not too late to make the right choice. You can be the model for tomorrow.

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