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“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and I’m persuaded, now lives in you also … What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus..” 2 Timothy 1.5, 13.

The past weekend marks a great milestone for my kid’s short athletic career. He broke the state record on the deadlift. I held a record in the same lift more than 10 years ago in California. He’s a chip off the old block. Many would think that it’s purely genetic. Yet, other things also contribute. We saw a lot of impressive lifts in the meet, including a smallish Asian man who deadlifted more than four times (yes, FOUR TIMES) his bodyweight for a world record. The biggest deadlift of the day was a few pounds short of 900 lbs. (yes, 900!). To give an idea of what that means, an average car weighs 4000 lbs. That’s almost one-fourth of a car. A most impressive feat for me however (as a dad) was this Japanese-Hawaiian kid who’s around 14 or 15 who just lifted a few pounds less than my son but weighs about 10 lbs less. My son made a keen observation in the warmup room. All the lifter kids have fathers who are lifters. This little kid who did the super heavy weight isn’t big, but he has great techniques. He was accompanied by his entire family who are all lifters and all the friends from those lifters’ gym. They were all Hawaiians and they all looked related. I saw them giving advice and support in the warmup room and preparing like real professionals. Isn’t that what it takes to be a great athlete? My son joked that this kid probably won the genetic lottery, but in all honesty, genetics without knowledge still lack substance. What I passed on to my son also came from my experience and from all the great lifters I lifted with in my younger days. They all contributed to his success. It takes more than talent. It takes the willingness to coach and pass knowledge. I think that’s how life works.

The serial suicides in Hong Kong really have me worried about the young people. One of them could’ve been my son if he were stuck in that educational environment, as he’s talented in unconventional ways that a rigid traditional education wouldn’t appreciate. Certainly, we can’t deny that the educational bureau has to shoulder a large part of the blame for the environment it fostered. Kids aren’t meant to be in the pressure cooker. I think this is also a alarm bell for parents. It’s hard to be a parent in this situation. Many parents are busy working (partly due to necessity), while sending many of their children to maids and tutoring classes. I believe academic failure is only part of the picture. Children need coaching and emotional support. They need their parents to pass on what they know to them. This is something tutors can’t do for them. The kids could acquire some skills, but skills are best learned from someone who loves and cares about you. I think there’s no easy solution, but it’s a sobering time for many of us parents.

When we look at the problem of failure, failure isn’t always a problem because there’re plenty who have failed but climbed back up. One of the contributing factors to stand back up is the emotional and spiritual support for the person. Emotional and spiritual support can only come from someone who cares. Sometimes it can come from a faith community. Certainly, it would help a great deal when there’s plenty of parental care and guidance. I see a lot of very capable parents who are successful and intelligent, but don’t really contribute to passing on those skills to their children. I believe success isn’t about the individual. It’s a corporate effort. I realize that there’re many exceptional cases when everything seems right but the children still choose that tragic path, but we can certainly try to do our best corporate effort to mentor our children and our young people, whether in church or family.

When we look at Timothy’s heritage, he had a grandma and a mother who were both first-generation believers. They cultivated Timothy whose life was also enriched by the continuous mentoring of Paul. Timothy faced plenty of difficulties. He was able to persevere. We need more people to walk with young people more than ever in our very challenging time.

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