Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Learning from a Master

Sports legend John Wooden died at age 99 this week.

To be honest, he was more than just a sports legend, he was really a life legend.
Enthusiasm, just to name a few.

"John Wooden was a very religious man and in some ways he treated the game religiously."--William Nack

Of all the wonderful things that have been said about this great man, there was one thing in particular that stood out to me that I think we all in life, especially those of in ministry, can glean and learn from.

In an article, one of Coach Wooden's former assistant coaches made this statement, "Coach Wooden never talked about winning. Instead he told us (coaching staff) "we must master three things: 1. Get them in shape 2. Teach them the basics 3. Teach them to play together."

I find this amazing, especially when so much strife in the church world has to do with "winning."

Get them in shape.
Teach the basics.
Teach how to play well together.

So many of life's issues, both good and bad, have to do with faith. Can we trust God to get us through? What if He doesn't? Why do bad things happen to good people? Or for that matter, why do good things happen to bad people? You can tell if a person is in spiritual shape not by how much they worship or attend church, but how they handle life when things don't work out the way they thought they should.
Is your faith in shape?

As I watched game two in the Laker's VS Celtics NBA Playoffs I witnessed a classic rebound and point conversion because of knowing the basics. It was so inspiring that the announcers kept going back to it during breaks in the game.

If Jesus was a basketball coach I'm pretty sure He would teach the basics over and over. He would be saying to the team, "take care of the basics and you'll achieve the national championship." Or in KJV, "take care of the small things and you'll be ruler over much".
In youth ministry we tried to teach our teens the simple HABITS: Hang time with God, Accountability, Bible memorization, Involvement in church, Tithe, and Service.
The basics are what keep you healthy and produce unwavering hope.
Is your hope grounded?

Teach them how to play well together. Wow! Need I say more?
I will say this: I, like many others, have experienced a "church breakup" (to use polite terms). And one of the biggest questions that arises in that time of healing is, "did I miss God?" After all I pretty sure every minister--including myself--believes the same thing when they go on staff or start attending a church. And that is "God called me here". I won't dispute that.
So what do you do when man calls you away from there?
My vote: leave. I know that sounds harsh and ungodly, but hear me out. Because if you argue from the standpoint of "God called me to this area and we're staying" then what you might as well be saying is, "God thinks the greatest way to reproduce churches is by the way of dysfunction and church splitting."

It would be as if God is up in heaven saying, "you know we could use more churches in that area, I'm going to send Vince to that church because one day they will kick him out and he'll church plant in that same area and then we'll have more churches there!" God then leans over and gives Jesus a high five.

Here is what I've found out during my short time on planet Earth. God gave us all brains to be able to figure some things out on our own. Some things are just highly probable. It's highly probable that a church split is going to do more lasting damage for many years than it will start to do good. If there is a chance that you two can't play well together, go to a different sandbox. Jesus said "if at all possible live peaceable with everyone." Which tells me for some that just won't be possible.

Now I know that sounds really rough and I've probably offended some, if I haven't offended you, just wait your turn I'll get to you; I'm an equally opportunity offender. *wink and smile*

I in no way am questioning what God did or did not tell you, but I've been around the block enough to know sometimes it can be good and people can play well together and sometimes it's just us wanting our way and using whatever scripture and justification to get it. Because the two are sometimes hard to tell apart, that is where accountability comes into play. Because if you submit to someone and they tell you "no" when you feel God told you "yes" then you are not held accountable, they are. Honestly there are too many scripture references to put in this one because the Bible says it from start to finish.
It's a basic in life that will help you love others and play well.

Oh, and how do you know if you're accountable and doing what you should? A timeless key is, "How do you respond when those over you tell you something you don't want to hear? Defensive or offended or quick to respond with a list of why they are wrong? Or do you do what they say with humility and with honor towards them?
How's your love level?

When I hear Coach Wooden say, "Get them in shape, teach them the basics and train them to play well together", I hear the Apostle Paul echo the heartbeat of God by saying, "Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13


  1. Great tribute to a great man who left an honest footprint in this world...thanks for tying them all together. Well done.


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