This week all three of our kids are preparing for this thing we call "Fine Arts". It is a discipleship tool of the National Youth Ministries Department of the Assemblies of God Church. It is designed to help students discover, develop and deploy their ministry gifts. Students compete on a district level and then advance to Fine Arts Nationals which will be held this year in Anaheim, California. We are pretty passionate about fine arts around our house. When our oldest got involved as a sixth grader I had no idea how God would use it to develop him into a leader. I’m definitely “Pro Fine Arts” but I don’t hide the fact that it can be challenging for my kids and for me. I wrote this to help “newbie” parents and to remind myself of what works and doesn’t. Although it's written specifically for Fine Arts, I have applied these concepts to other competitive events like sports.
A few Things I’ve learned as a Fine Arts Mom
The week before any competition is stressful.
There’s no doubt about it. However, when we allow ourselves and our kids to speak stress over ourselves, it magnifies. Does that make sense?
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
This won’t be the last time your kid experiences stress, so take the opportunity to teach them how to deal with it. Change the wording to “This is going to be a busy week but I’m so excited about __________”
“I feel overwhelmed with all I have to do this week but I know that with Christ I can do all things.”
Give them tools to deal with stress. Take a walk, listen to music, do art or write, get outside! Most of all, take it to Jesus. He knows how you’re feeling and He wants to help you. And some practical things: No sleepovers the week before the competition, feed them well, encourage them to drink water and sleep, remind them to eat. Our family increases our Vitamin C during this time.
The Schedule will never be perfect.
We don’t live in a perfect world, therefore, our schedules will never be perfect. Be prepared for the last minute practice, the last minute request for a certain piece of clothing, and the last minute change in the schedule. It’s going to happen and as much as you as a parent don’t like it – your negativity makes things worse on your kid. This is not the time to make suggestions to leaders on how they can do their job better the next time. I’ve found that our leaders are so open to suggestions – but determining the time and place to give them is wise on your part. (As I type this I’m rearranging the schedule yet again because of changes. This one may always be hard for me).
Serve your child this week
I’m all about “natural consequences” and not babying my kids but for the week prior to and during Nationals I throw that philosophy out the window. This time is stressful enough and I have to remind myself that they are teenagers who haven’t yet learned the skills that I have. I remember one year when I heard the Lord tell me to clean my oldest child’s room for him. What? Are you kidding me? I’m glad I listened because it was a beautiful gift to him. Look for opportunities to go above and beyond for your kid this week. What can you take off their plate? Think of their Love Language and fill their tank this week. (If you don’t know your child’s love language – see me. I can teach you in 15 minutes and it will change your relationship)
Watch your attitude
It never fails. You’ll hear about a student who is not pulling their weight or a coach who doesn’t seem to have their act together or a situation that seems “unfair”. I’m sorry to say this but “That’s life.” In the future your child will encounter a co-worker who doesn’t pull their weight, a boss who isn’t the most organized, and plenty of situations that seem “unfair”. Fine Arts gives them (and you) an opportunity to learn how to deal with those challenges. I’ve found that it’s good to allow my kids to “vent” their frustration at home. Otherwise they might explode at practice. This year I found myself saying to my child who is new to Fine Arts, "Get used to it. That's how it is." How true - but pretty insensitive. He just needed to vent and my insensitivity made it worse.
However, there is a fine line between venting to get it out and dwelling on the negative. How can we help them process and determine a healthy way to deal with the challenges? If you are a parent who likes justice or always has a better way of doing it – be sure that you’re not feeding the negativity that your child is feeling. (Ouch! Been there, done that, Jesus help me to be different this year)
Pray for them and with them
All week. Consider fasting something. Pray with them in the car on the way to practice. Find them before their performance, lay hands on them and pray. Pray that they not only will do their best, but that the people who need to hear their message will be in that room.
I remember at one nationals, a leader came up to me after my son had done a HV solo on suicide. She said “I’m not going to tell you who this student is, but she has been dealing with thoughts of taking her own life. She was in this room during his solo and just told me that she will never speak those words again.”
There are people in these performance rooms, adults and students – who need to hear the messages that our kids are sharing. Invite the Holy Spirit to show up and change lives. Pray against sickness, injury, and attack from the enemy.
Ask about their entry
If you don’t understand human video, ask them the story line. Help them process what their entry means to them. What is the message they hope to get across? What are they learning? Why did they choose that song they are singing or playing? What does that piece of art mean to them? I have found that it’s hard to explain to “outsiders” some of the categories that our kids are involved in. Early on I developed an “elevator speech” to explain human video to our family and friends. It helped them “get” why our kids were so passionate about fine arts. Once they got it they were able to support it.
Support our coaches and leaders
I don’t think I fully understood what coaches do until I had one living in my house. We really have no idea the number of hours they spend writing, looking for music & ideas, doing voiceovers and praying for our kids. And that doesn’t include the hours they spend practicing with them. Your appreciation through words, support, prayers and even a small gift keep them going. The time and energy that coaches have poured into my kids has changed their lives.
They don’t have to invest in our students, but they do.
Support other students.
Look for students whose parents aren’t involved. Pray for them and go to their performances. You will have some amazing opportunities to get to know students that you never would have known. Fine Arts can and should be an amazing outreach opportunity for our churches and you are a part of that. Invest in students and reach out to their parents.
In the end, fine arts is a privilege that our kids are given. Through the process they learn to get out of their comfort zone, lead, develop their gifts, use their gifts for ministry, and work as a team.
There’s a difference between a student who “performs” and one who “ministers”. When they feel the Holy Spirit empowering them and speaking through them, it changes them forever.
So…..here we go. Whether you’re the parent going to Nationals as a leader, or the one who has to stay behind – you have a unique opportunity to help guide your student through an experience that can be life changing.
I would love to hear what you've learned as your kids have competed in various things. Feel free to share in the comment section.