Disney's High School Musical: An Orgy of Excellence?

Teens feel intense pressure to be good at something by the time they get to high school. Adults constantly ask questions like: "Do you play any sports? What are you into?" Colleges demand to know their passions and dreams, their histories of triumph and success.

This cultural pressure is revealed in Disney Channel's High School Musical, a movie about a New Mexico high school where teens are divided into cliques according to their skills -- the brains, the skateboarders, the jocks, the musicians, etc. Enter a basketball star and a math genius who discover their shared aptitude for singing. Their dilemma (reminiscent of broken-hearted American Idol semi-finalist Ayla Brown's) is how to pursue two areas of excellence at the same time, breaking out of their status quo label of "jock" and "brain." At the end, the guy wins his basketball game, the girl wins her academic decathlon, and they both get the leads in the musical. Success, success, success. Confetti. Celebration. Winning. Isn't that what life's about?

But what if you're not the best at anything in school? What if you have no outstanding worldly accomplishments? It's easy for a teen to feel low and discouraged out there. That's why we should celebrate the real stuff of excellence at home: small sacrifices, a servant's heart, truth-telling, encouraging a friend, peacemaking, generosity, compassion, self-control. We need to make a big deal of these Kingdom accomplishments when we see them in our teenager.

Here's a place to start: invest in a shining star plate, or decorate a special plate at home. When your teen reveals some nobility of character, celebrate it by honoring him around the dinner table, serving his food on the special plate and recording the act in a book of family accomplishments. True accomplishments. Not the kind that depend on the genes we were fortunate enough to inherit, but the kind that depend on the King we're trying to obey.

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