This past week we have been heavily involved in the Kalkaska County Fair. We raise pigs for the kids to auction, and my daughter also has a dog she shows and does horseback riding as well. There are things my son does with joy and passion, but anything involved with animals is not on his top ten list. He makes it quite clear that he is, “in this for the money.” I see no sign that this will change anytime soon, as his interests are definitely non-agricultural. So, when fair week comes around, we have always looked to him and done our best to get him excited about it, and remind him that it is character development – hard work, responsibility, dedication, and so on.
Looking at our pigs this year, we really thought that Zach had a nice looking pig of a decent weight and shape. Every time we went out and looked at the pigs, I would think that he would have a contender for big market money, and his sister would just need to settle for the usual goal she has of being a showman. His pig was exactly the shape the judge has been looking for the last two years. He heard me say it over and over, and I think he was really starting to get excited for the fair this year. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised.
Well, we got our pigs up there and started looking around and found that Zach’s pig, while looking good, was much smaller than many of the other pigs. Our worst fears were realized when she was weighed and we found that she was significantly under the weight for a market swine. I was so surprised at the weight that I asked for her to be weighed again, and we got the same result. This was a little pig. (we later found out she was the second smallest out of 40+ pigs this year.
Zach was crushed. The main reason he does the pig is for the money, and he has a small pig. Roaster pigs are sold at the end of all the other pigs, and usually your buyers have spent most of their money and the bids are low. Low bids + low weight = less money. That was a hard hit for him. We talked to him and tried to get him fired up again. I don’t think he was buying it much. We pointed out to him that since he was one of the oldest kids in his class and had been showing for a few years, he had a great shot at winning the Showmanship award. I think he perked up a bit at that, and he went the next morning with a good attitude, ready to give it a shot.
He did great. I really thought it was his best performance yet as a showman. He actually looked like he was enjoying himself! When the results came in, he did not win the Grand or the Reserve spot. I have to admit, that was hard for me to see. I had just watched my son bounce back from a hard hit the night before in something he does not like doing, knuckle up and go at it again, only to be denied the prize he was after. I looked him in the eye and told him that I was very proud of him and his efforts. Inside I was devastated for him. I didn’t understand it anymore than he did. I pretty much concluded at that point that his week was pretty much over.
I didn’t know what was going on in him though. At camp last week, Zach was impacted by the messages and his time in the Word. He came home and told us all about how God became much more real to him while at camp. What I didn’t know, was that in the middle of all of this disappointment, Zach was reaching out to God for help with his attitude. He was praying that God would still give him a good week at the fair.
Over the next couple of days, we watched Jessica rack up one award after another. Her side of the pig pen was covered in ribbons, a plaque, and a trophy that fairly shouted to anyone walking by that this girl knew what she was doing. We felt bad that Zach’s side of the pen was vacant of any award, and the number of hers almost made it look the barn was tipping with the weight of them! Even though that was what we saw, there was something else we could see as well. Zach was having fun.
He was there at every event supporting his sister. He was feeding and caring for the animals with little to no push. He was helping other kids out with their animals. He was laughing, smiling, and not feeling sorry for himself. He was out lifting up other people. It became so apparent to us that his attitude was so impressive that we decided as a family it would be fun to take a picture of him and put it on his side of the pen with a sign that said, “Best Attitude with No Awards!” It just seemed like a fun thing to do, and it would put something on his side of the pen. We thought the buyers might get a kick out of it when they walked through the pens. Honestly, we did it for the laughs.
Well, the auction took place, and Jessica did well with her pig. It was the 6th place market swine, and took a respectable price. Bidding was going very well last night, but as we often see, as the pigs got smaller, the average bids did too. You would see the occasional pig tip a large number, but we saw what we expected. We told Zach to just get out there and have fun. He had a pig to sell, she was small, so he needed to sell himself too!
When he got out there, I could not have been more proud of him. He was smiling, had a bounce in his step and a grin on his face. He even did the moon-walk as he walked with his pig! I wasn’t even paying attention to the bidding until I heard the auctioneer yell out that he had received a $4.00 bid! That was the same price per pound that the Grand Champion pig received. By the time all was finished, Zach had received a final bid of $4.50! That was a full $2.00 per pound m0re than I was HOPING for! His pig brought in more money than his sister’s pig that weighed 50 pounds more than his!
The buyer was a complete stranger. When we went to give her the buyer gift that we had purchased for her, she said that she and her daughter had been walking through the pens and saw the picture of Zach smiling and giving the thumbs up, and had decided right then that they would buy his pig. Not because ot was a great pig, but because he had a great attitude, and it was showing on his face before and during the show.
Talking with Zach later, he said that he had prayed for a good result, but he had prayed more about a good attitude. He said he is working on having an attitude of praying without ceasing and giving his thoughts to God when they start to go dark. What better thing could a Dad hear his son say? I told him that I thought God blessed him last night for something better than hard work. He was blessed for his determination to have a good attitude. I believe that with all my heart. This was a battle for him this past week. It was a man-sized battle, and he knuckled up and hit it head on with God at his side. I could not be more proud.
Phillippians 4:8-9 say:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Matthew 6:33 says:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Zach did the hard thing this week. He chose a Relentless attitude of trust and put his thoughts on God rather than focusing on his current lot. I can learn a lesson there, how about you? What hard thing has you discouraged right now? Are you dwelling on the circumstance, or are you asking God to show you what you need to learn, to let you lean on Him, to direct your steps and spirit as you continue to walk? That is a life of Relentless Growth. That is kingdom living, and God wants to reward us for it.
Relentless Growth -> Grow Deep -> Grow Strong