Grades Are Overrated


“Hi, Renee. Can you come in next week to discuss your son’s test results?”  My heart felt that familiar momma squeeze. You know the one.  The phone call wasn’t surprising.  I’ve asked every doctor, teacher, and friend I know to help me solve the mystery of his little brain for years.

Preschool teachers reassured me that everything was fine.  All kids develop at different rates.  I knew this to be true.  He’s my third, not my first.  A momma just knows when something isn’t quite right.  Even when everyone else tells you it’s nothing, you know in your heart it’s something.

At a preschool meeting  when he was 3, I shared my concerns.  After listening they offered, “Now that you mention it, there are times we can give an instruction and he seems to understand perfectly.  Minutes later we can give a similar instruction, and he can’t seem to follow it.  There is no rhyme or reason.”

At 18 months I took him to the pediatrician.  “He screams.  A lot.  Way more than the average toddler.”  The response was typical.  “He’s just a toddler.  They get frustrated.”  I felt there was more to his frustration than toddler frustration.  We kept on.

I asked the doctors if he could see well.  Was his hearing ok?  Everything seemed to check out.

God creates exactly what He wants to create.  God doesn’t create mistakes.  God doesn’t form a human being, send him into the world, and say, “Oops, guess I messed up on that one.”  He says, “It was very good.”

He knits us together in the womb.  Precision and attention to detail are undeniable.

I sat in Andrew’s classroom surrounded by loving teachers and administrators to discuss what I’ve seen for years and am now grateful others see as well.  His teacher and I have been communicating even prior to enrolling him in her class.  God used her and others in his school to comfort a momma’s heart that wants to know everything will be ok.  They didn’t make any promises about his learning path.  They couldn’t possibly.  But they love him.  His teacher loves him and sees what I see.  A unique soul filled with a love for God that is mature beyond his young years.

I knelt at his bed the night before the last day of school and watched him sleep.  Those arms are longer, feet are bigger.  Facial features are maturing.  Little hands becoming big boy hands.

And I thanked God that He made Andrew exactly the way He made Him.  I poured out my heart to God at that bedside.

“God if you had made learning easy for him, I would take for granted the magnificent ways you have created our brains to function.  I would have taken for granted the ease with which learning seems to take place.  I would have been prone to pride in my heart over the academic successes of my boys.  I would have taken the credit for what is not mine to claim.”

“God, if you hadn’t created him the way you had, I may have never been able to see the interesting treasures of his heart that cover where he is weak.  The parts that really matter.”

“God, you love this child more than I do, which is beyond my ability to comprehend.  If my heart aches at his struggles, what must yours feel?”

“God, he may have trouble learning letters, numbers, and sounds, but you have graced me with a gift that I treasure more than any gift I can remember in a long time.  You have allowed me to see a glimpse of a child’s heart that is sold out to you.  A heart that loves you with the most genuine love I’ve ever seen.  A heart that knows the giver of all things and knows who he belongs to.  Lord, thank you for the gift of this child, created exactly the way he is created. Let me love every unique twist and turn we encounter knowing that along the way, I will see you more clearly.”

We closed out another successful year last week.  We are realizing that success looks different for each of our children.  To celebrate and broadcast boldly an all A’s accomplishment of one sends a message to another that that is the picture of success.  All A’s are fine.  But it’s not everything.

We’ve never talked about grades much in our home.  Kids put enough pressure on themselves without us adding to it.  It’s attitude and effort.  Have a great attitude and work with your best effort.  If God has given you a brain that learns easily, all A’s will come.  If He has given you a brain that needs to work a bit harder, you may not get all A’s, but with a positive attitude and effort, you will succeed, and God will be glorified.

As we begin to navigate new territory of learning disabilities, I’m seeing scholastic achievement in a whole new light.  This year we aren’t rewarding or praising our boys for receiving good grades.  We are praising for working at school as if they are working for the Lord.

We give all we have to the Lord, the results are up to Him.  If the result is A’s, great.  If the result is B’s, great.  If the result is incredibly low test scores, great.  As long as we give all we have to the Lord, trusting in His ultimate plan for our life, God is glorified.

Grades are overrated.

A heart doesn’t receive a grade.  Loving others doesn’t receive a grade.  A good work ethic doesn’t receive a grade.  Integrity doesn’t receive a grade.  Putting others first doesn’t receive a grade.  But God sees it all.  He sees into our hearts, and when we work out of a deep love for Him, He will work everything out for us.  It might not look the way we want, but God doesn’t make mistakes.

My prayer over the summer, leading up to a new school year, is, “Lord, let us not focus on results, grades, and test scores.  Let us focus on effort and attitude.  Cultivate in our children hearts that love you so much they want to give everything they have to you.  May you receive glory and honor through their little lives.  Thank you for the gift of another school year with these kids.  Thank you for one more summer.”



13 replies
  1. Brandi
    Brandi says:

    You have opened my eyes so much in through this! Cultivating an attitude of the heart and a work ethic that says, “I’m working as unto the Lord” is paramount…. Beautifully captured and stated in this. Thank you.

  2. Renee
    Renee says:

    Thank you Brandi! It’s a reminder I need for myself as well as for my kids. Everything we have is an offering.

  3. Katie Kosobuid
    Katie Kosobuid says:

    Your blog post touched me. Thank you! I am a teacher and a mom. Honestly I cried as I read your post. It made me think of the learning challenges that my son has faced and how hard it has been for me— the mom that likes everything to be right, fixed and perfect…. and I want it perfect now… I don’t want to wait! I have also been on the other side of the table as a teacher… delivering news that parents do not want to hear. I will print this and reread this I am sure. I have already shared it with my friends and family. Many thanks!


  4. Renee
    Renee says:

    Katie, thank you for your beautiful comment. I’m so glad the Lord used it to touch your heart. Thank you for sharing here with us.

  5. t
    t says:

    the title of your post caught my eye, i so believe this. I’m more of a mom that fights for character than grades. I encourage my girls to work hard, finish strong, do everything as if they’re doing it for God, but not to the very point of stress and tears, feeling like a failure while comparing grades with others. Thank you for voicing your heart, now i’m not feeling so alone in a culture that is obsessed with always having to be the best.

  6. Renee
    Renee says:

    Thank you for your comment, Teresa. It’s so hard to cultivate their young hearts in a culture so performance driven. If we can keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, I am confident He will give us the ability to stay the course. You are not alone my friend!

  7. Janice
    Janice says:

    This was so beautifully written, and tears welled in my eyes as I know Andrew so well. And with such strong faith, and God’s Love around your family, you all will come through strong in faith,unity, and enriched by his to all

  8. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    You’re boys and readers are blessed to have you! Focusing on the glorification of God will always give us an ‘A’ on His report card! Love you!

  9. Robin
    Robin says:

    Renee, I just stumbled onto your blog through a face book post and after 5 minutes here I can tell we are kindred spirit moms! It is so encouraging to hear from other Christian moms who struggle with the same things. My oldest son has struggled throughout his school years having been diagnosed with ADD in 2nd grade and has often felt “dumb” or “slow”. I’ve told him many times, “Grades aren’t everything” and “there’s more to life than academics”. He continued to strive and overcome with the Lord’s help and just finished his first year of college with a 3.7 GPA. We are thankful for his grades but what I acknowledge as most valuable are the character traits I see developing in him like hard work, self-discipline, perseverance and reliance on the Lord.

  10. Renee
    Renee says:

    Robin, I’m glad you found the blog. Welcome! It is good to surround ourselves with others who “get” us 🙂 Thank you for your comment. Blessings!

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