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FIRST-PERSON: Honoring mothers

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–In the book “Wooden on Leadership,” legendary basketball coach John Wooden explains that, to him, a potential recruit’s character was as important as his athletic ability. And, according to the coach, how a person treats his or her mother is very revealing.

To illustrate this point, Wooden shares the following story:

“I once interviewed a very talented young man who wanted to attend UCLA on a basketball scholarship. I was even prepared to offer him a scholarship during our meeting.

“His mother was there, and at one point she politely asked me a question. Her son immediately looked over at her and snapped, ‘How can you be so ignorant? Just keep your mouth shut and listen to what the coach says.’

“I assured her that her question was fine and answered it. The young man, however, had revealed an aspect of himself that wasn’t fine. In fact, it was unacceptable to me: disrespect for his mother.

“If he couldn’t respect her, how could he possibly respect me when things got tough? I politely ended the meeting and excused myself. The scholarship was never offered.”

Upon reading Coach Wooden’s story, I was reminded of another.

A teenager entered the kitchen one evening while his mother was preparing dinner. As the boy sauntered through the room, he placed a slip of paper on the counter. He then took a seat at the table and waited quietly.

When she found a moment to pause from her meal preparation, mom dried her hands on her apron. She picked up the paper and read what her son had written:

Cutting the grass: $10.00

Cleaning my room all week: $5.00

Running errands: $2.00

Two hours of baby-sitting: $10.00

Taking out the garbage: $2.00

Maintaining good grades: $5.00

Total owed: $34.00

The boy studied his mother as she examined his “bill.” She said nothing, but fished a pen from the pocket of her apron. Mom turned the paper over and began to write. In a few moments she stopped, placed the pen and paper on the counter and continued preparing dinner.

Curious, the boy walked over and picked up his “bill,” and read what his mother had written:

Nine months of pregnancy: No charge.

Late night feedings: No charge.

Diaper changes: No charge.

Potty training: No charge.

Bandaging scrapes and scratches: No charge.

Bedtime stories: No charge.

Doctor and dentist visits: No charge.

Taxi service: No charge.

Academic tutoring: No charge.

Seasonal cheerleading: No charge.

Hugs and encouragement: No charge.

Etiquette training: No charge.

Food procurement and meal preparation: No charge.

Clothes, toys, etc.: No charge.

Total owed: No charge.

When the boy looked up from the paper, his eyes were filling with tears. He took the pen from the counter, turned the paper over and hastily scribbled on it.

He handed the paper to his mom. She looked at it. Written across the “bill” were the words “paid in full.” The boy hugged his mother and whispered, “I love you.”

While moms deserve appreciation much more than once a year, Mother’s Day provides a special opportunity for children to say, “Thanks mom, I love you!”

You might ask, “What if my mother is not like the one described in the story?” Sadly, not all moms fulfill their roles as admirably as the one mentioned above. However, the Bible instructs us to honor our mothers. That means we are to treat them with dignity and respect.

How do you honor a mom that has not been the model mother? Jesus said that we should treat others the way we would want them to treat us. How would you like your mother to treat you? Respond to her in that manner.

“But,” you say, “Compared to my mother the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz looks like the citizen of the year.” That might well be, but unless you are still wearing diapers, you can at least be thankful she potty trained you!

It is all too easy to accentuate the negative of a mom who was not a model parent. However, on Mother’s Day take time to focus on what she did that was positive.

For Coach Wooden, how a person treated his or her mother provided valuable insight into an individual’s true colors. According to the coach, disrespect and a lack of courtesy reveal an attitude of ingratitude. And it is an attitude he would rather do without.

Make your mom’s day special. Thank her for what she did right!
Kelly Boggs, whose column appears each Friday in Baptist Press, is pastor of the Portland-area Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs