Category Archives: Family

It’s How You Play The Game


It was six months ago that everyone from the Chicago area was glued to their televisions, watching the Little League World Series. Why? Because one of the their own, Jackie Robinson West was playing. This amazing team went on to win the National Championship. Though they would later loose the World Championship game, they returned to Chicago with all the pomp and circumstance due a championship team. There is no question in anyone’s minds that these young men are incredible baseball players.

Fast forward 6 months and this team has had its Championship title stripped from it. It is not the result of any action that the boys took, but of the district leadership who expanded their boundaries into other district without league authorization, for the purpose of recruiting specific players. If you are unaware of these events, you can find it at

Now again, let me be clear that the the young men on this team are phenomenal players and the stripping of their title has nothing to do with their performance, but the activities of those behind the scenes. I am not here to take sides in this issue. I have my thoughts on the case but that is a separate discussion. My problem is the reprehensible and unconscionable response of people to these events.

Rather than accepting the decision of the proper authorities, we find protest and attacks on those who simply try to uphold the rules. What is more, it is not enough to simply disagree with the decision, instead those who would call themselves leaders cry out that an injustice has been done, and for the most vile of reasons. And if this is not enough, the individual who first raised the questions has received death threats. Again, I am not going to get caught up here in the pointing fingers and claims of what was the right thing to do or why the issue was brought up, but I do have one issue to raise. What lesson is being taught to these young men and another young people who observe the events?

Does the response of so many really teach the lessons that should learned from this? Do they learn that when rules are broken, there are consequence? Do they learn that the consequences of actions do no simply effect the people behind the actions (in this case the district administration) but impacts those who unknowingly broke rules (those boys who were from out of the district) and those who are completely innocent (those boys who met all the requirements to play)? Do they learn to take responsibility for actions taken? Do they learn to lay the responsibility where it belongs? My answer is no! They do not.

What they do learn is that when something goes wrong, it must be someone else’s fault, as demonstrated in the accusations that it is simply an attack on them for reasons that have nothing to do with baseball. They learn that when you gain from doing something wrong, it should not be taken away from you as long as you did not do it knowingly as evidences in the claim that the boys should not loose their title despite the fact that the rules were broken (punish the adults, not the boys), after all intent is what is important. They learn that winning is all that matters, and rules take a back seat as evidences in the declarations that they are still champions in the eyes of the people of Chicago. They learn that if you complain and yell loud enough, it makes you right, even if you are wrong.

No, I feel for the loss that these young men have experienced, but the decision of Little League International is just. Maybe it is time we stopped pandering to base emotions and started using events to teach the importance of fair play. Maybe it is time we stopped glorifying visceral reactions and stopped to objectively examine a situation. Maybe we need to teach that actions have consequences. Maybe we need to remember what we were so often taught as children, “It’s not whether you win or loose, it’s how you play the game.”

An Open Letter to the Boy Scouts of America

A Scout is ReverentAllow me to express the support of me and my entire family in maintaining the Boy Scouts of America’s current policy of a ban on gay scouts and scouters. I believe that the BSA has served for over a century as a great force for character development of young men. The foundational key of this character is Duty to God. Now I realize that some religious organization do embrace homosexuals, but these do not represent all religious beliefs. To ask a person who sees homosexuality as contrary to God’s law to maintain their duty to God while being part of an organization which embraces homosexuals is to put their entire beliefs at odds with their commitment to the organization.

Further, to simply push the policy off on the individual Charter Organization creates a new set of problems. First, the individual Charter Organizations do not have the resources to fight the legal battles, that will come, that the BSA as a national organization does. Second, this will not satisfy those who seek to overturn this policy. They will simply continue the battle until the BSA openly accepts gay scouts and scouters as national policy. Finally, the only clear result of such a move will be the eventual schism between those who accept the new policy and those who choose to maintain the current policy based on their religious convictions.

I have always been proud to be affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America. I currently serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster, and previously served on the committee as the Troop Chaplain. My oldest son is beginning to plan his Eagle project and my youngest son looks forward to someday doing the same. I believe in the commitment of Lord Baden-Powell to develop men for the future and his belief that “No man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws.” (Lord Baden-Powell, Scouting For Boys,1908) As one who clearly believes that Homosexuality is contrary to God’s law, I find myself torn between my love of scouting and my love of God. But in the end, there is no question. love of God does and must always win.

I ask you, on behalf of myself, my family and all those who share my belief in God’s law, please maintain the long held policy of a ban on gay scouts and scouters.

Yours in Scouting,

Brian Olson


Send the BSA your thoughts.

A special number to express your views on the change of policy has been set up by the Boy Scouts of America.  Send your thoughts to: or call:  972 580 2330.

Is Failure an Option?

Last night we had a Court of Honor for the Boy Scouts. For those who are unfamiliar with this, a Court of Honor is an opportunity for the scouts to be publicly recognized for their achievements, merit badges earned and rank advancements. This time ends, as all scout meetings do, with a Scoutmaster’s minute, a chance for the Scoutmaster to leave the boys with one last nugget of wisdom before the evening ends. As the Scoutmaster was speaking one phrase jumped out at me from all that he said, “It is more honorable to fail, than to cheat.”

This, of course, flies in the face of popular wisdom, after all, doesn’t society tell us to “get ahead at all cost” or “all that is important is winning” or “failure is not an option.” To fail is to show weakness. To fail is to show that there is something you can not do. Indeed, in today’s culture, failure is not an option.

Unfortunately, it is not just the culture around us. How many of us have unwittingly propagated this view with our own children. I was chatting with a mother at the library toward the end of summer and we were talking about our kids going back to school. As we talked she relayed a story of someone she knew who had attended a very highly regarded and well known High School in the Chicago northern suburbs. She said that one day she was talking to this friend about a school assignment that was due and was wondering if she was able to get it done. Her friends response was that her dad was up all night writing it.

In this case, there was nothing unwitting about it. Her father wanted to make sure the assignment got done and done right, to help ensure his daughter “succeeded.” We certainly wouldn’t do this, but how many Cub Scout or Awana dad’s have ended out designing and building their child’s Pinewood Derby or Grand Prix car for them rather than guiding them in building and designing their own car. How many of us have seen a bad grade on our child’s report card and the first thing through out minds, if not out of our mouths was , “that is unacceptable, your smarter than this.” How many of us, when our child has gotten in big trouble have responded with “you embarrass me and the whole family.” Each of these in their own way, from blatantly obvious to subtle innuendo, teaches our children that they must be perfect and that failure is not an option.

So if this is what we are teaching, how can it be true that it is more honorable to fail, than to cheat. After all, cheating is just a way of ensuring that we stay ahead of the game. Perhaps we as parents need to correct our understanding of our role, before we think about correcting this misperception in our children.

As parent’s we seem to think that there is no greater compliment than to have someone tell us how well behaved our children are or how smart they are. This of course feeds our ego that we are doing such a good job. Well, we want people to continue to think we are good parents so we do what we can to ensure that our children never get in trouble and that they do not fail. Unfortunately this can easily turn into situations were we are doing work for our children to ensure they succeed or covering up their mistakes so they do not get in trouble and no one sees our “failure” as parents. I heard it this was, we have come to see our role as parent to be raising perfect kids, but our real role should be to raise responsible adults. And as hard as it is to hear, and I assure you I don’t what to hear it either, becoming a responsible adult means failing, sometimes in a huge way, as a child (and even still some as adults). It is through failure that we learn to succeed. Henry Ford’s original automobile design did not have a reverse gear. Thomas Edison said about failure to develop the incandescent light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that wont work.” When we “help” our children and prevent them from failing, we are not helping at all, but doing an injustice. We are not teaching them that success is a result of hard work and you may fail along the way, rather we are teaching them to succeed at all cost and that failure is not an option.

So we come back to the idea that it is more honorable to fail, that to cheat. No wonder this seems such a foreign concept. Children have had ingrained in them the idea that as long as you succeed it does not matter how you got there. For them, and to many of us as adults, the ends justifies the means.

Now before I am criticized as promoting failure as a good thing, let me be clear that I am not saying that. there are two reasons for failure. The first is that you are just not putting the necessary work into it (lazy, distracted, apathetic, etc.). Failure for this reason is not honorable, but still something can be learned. A person can learn that they need to be more focused or more disciplined. The second is failure is that even though you tried your hardest you simply did not understand it or were not able to do it. Failure for this reason is honorable, because you worked hard. From this failure you learn that you may need to ask for help (something most of us do not do well), you may have areas you need to focus on more, or there may be things that simply are not within your realm of capabilities (this last one is a hard pill to swallow in a society that insist on you can be anything you want, and that everyone is a winner, but I digress.)

In Luke 16:10 Jesus teaches that “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”You may think that a little thing here or there doesn’t matter, but those little “cheats” grow and can have profound impact down the road. We read in Proverbs 19:1 that it is “Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and a fool.” and in Provers 10:9 that “People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.”

Cheating may appear to produce the desired end result, but it is simply an appearance and as two dimensional as the images on the television screen. True success for real life requires hard work, integrity and occasional failure. We need to learn to regard failure not as a sign of weakness, but as an opportunity to learn. We need to learn that it truly is more honorable to fail, than to cheat.

It All Boils Down to Relationships

I have said for years that everything we do boils down to relationships. Success in business, success in ministry, success in family and success in life in general all come down to successful relationships.

As many of you know, I was recently laid off from a job I had for 20 years. A job, if I might say, I was quite successful at not because of my great knowledge or abilities, but because of my relationships. In my job I had direct supervision and responsibility for a team that was entrusted with the safety of a university campus. Now many of us have images of people in security, safety, law enforcement, etc. People who are tied to the rules. People who are rigid and unwilling to bend. Trust me, I have known and worked with some of them, but as a person who served in this capacity for so many years I assure you that this will only get you so far. In his blog “Relationships – The Key to Successful Leadership” Doug Dickerson refers to Alan Loy McGinnis’ book “Brining out the Best in People.”

“In the simplest terms, the people who like people and who believe that those they lead have the best intentions will get the best from them. On the other hand, the police-type leader, who is constantly on the watch for everyone’s worst side, will find that people get defensive and self-protective and that the doors to their inner possibilities quickly close.”

Policies and rules have a place, and without them productivity of any sort will fall apart. They may at times serve as the starting point so that people know what is expected. And on those unfortunate occasions when necessary to call people to account they may serve as an ending point. But we do not live and work at the beginning or the end. We work and live in the in-between. It is here that relationships develop and grow.

It is through relationships that people get to know each other personally. It is through relationships that people become vulnerable to each other and learn that they can trust each other. It is through relationships that we develop a vested interest in each other’s welfare. It is through relationships that people become committed to each other.

Taken to its ultimate level I am reminded of the quote, “IF THEY FEAR YOU, THEY WILL ONLY FIGHT FOR YOU, BUT IF THEY LOVE YOU, THEY WILL DIE FOR YOU!” (I am having trouble placing the quote.) Do those who work for us love us? Do those we work with love us? Do those we work for love us? More importantly, do we love them?

We were never meant to live and work alone, isolated from others. God intended from the very beginning that we live in relationships.

“Then the LORD said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable to him.'” Genesis 2:18

Jesus himself did not lead by giving orders and rules, but by living in relationships. Those he chose to minister with him were not servants, but friends.

“. . . I have called you friends, for everything I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

We will not always be perfect. We will not always live up to the standards that have been set. It is only when we have a relationship that we will be able to forgive these lapses.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

It all boils down to relationships. This is where we define success. Worldly success can be found apart from relationships, but it is meaningless. But relationships allow us to be successful even if we are a failure in the world’s eyes. I am reminded of the quote found at the end of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.” “No Man is a Failure who has friends.”

We need to reach out to others, share with others and love others to truly know success. Success in business, ministry, family and life is found in our relationships.