January 2007

Encouragement22 Jan 2007 04:40 pm

Sports Fans are by nature finicky. After all, fan is short for fanatic, and it seems that the last few years the mantra has become “Just Win Baby”. Your team not playing anymore – fire the coach. The college alma mater have a down year. Put the coach on the proverbial hot seat. After all, they are being paid so much money.

That is why it was so refreshing to watch two good guys win the AFC and NFC playoffs this weekend. Both Tony Dungy, and Lovie Smith are African American Coaches, but also they are devoted Christian Men. Tony Dungy buried his 18 year old son last year, and amid the pain and heartache, Coach Dungy lifted the name of Christ by the way he acted, and in his words. Dungy’s first words of thanks after the Colts AFC win were to the Lord for giving them the chance. Wow!

One of the distinctions of a leader, is that his or her shadow changes the places that it passes. The Colts players all talked about their patience and mental toughness, and how much they had learned from Dungy. Lovie Smith’s players showed respect and trust, and desire to fight for the head guy, because they knew he was fighting for them. Bears quarterback Rex Grossman is decried by every sports pundit in the country, but Coach Smith has stuck with him, and that loyalty seems to be evident in the way that the Bears approach their coach.

In a league of prima donna’s and players who take their status as role models lightly, it is good to see the premier game headlined by two good guys, who can speak about patience, respect, trust, and thankfulness.

Encouragement12 Jan 2007 05:18 pm

I watched as the 5th and 6th grade girls played basketball, and like most of the parents found myself cheering when my daughters shots fell in. I would grimace when she would turn the ball over, or when her shot clanked off the backboard, sending an encouraging prayer her way.

Upward Basketball is not so much about winning and losing, even though a score is kept, and coaches try to encourage their team to score more points, while playing strong defense to keep the other team from scoring.

And while scoring and winning is important, and it is certainly something that we should vigorously cheer, the other side to that is just as important. The missed shots, the ball that is stolen, or dribbled off a foot is a cause for celebration as well.

In life, despite our best efforts, sometimes our shots fall short. Maybe someone else just makes a great play, or maybe a light in our eyes causes us to be distracted just enough to cause the shot to glance away. Upward Basketball teaches many lessons, including the lesson that sometimes we miss, and who we are is dictated in large measure by how we respond to those misses.

Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback had such a moment last Saturday in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Romo had led the Cowboys into field goal range with just over a minute left in the game, and the Cowboys trailing by 1. The crowd, the teams, and the announcers just knew that it was a foregone conclusion that Dallas would kick the field goal, take a 2 point lead, and Seattle would have to quickly make it to field goal range in hopes to win. The announcers talked about how it might be advantageous for the Seattle defense to just let Dallas score the touchdown quickly, so that they might have the ball with just enough time left to move the ball down the field to score.

Most of you probably know the rest of the story. Romo mishandled the snap on the field goal try, and was tackled a yard short of the first down marker. The Cowboys turned the ball over on downs. Romo was devastated, and went to the bench, burying his head in his hands. Minutes before, he was poised to be the hero. Pro Bowl Quarterback who had led his team to a come from behind score in the first round of the playoffs. Now he was the goat.

In that time though, the announcers pointed out that Romo could possible get another shot. Because of the time left on the clock, Dallas could get a couple of plays. Someone tell Romo John Madden kept saying. He needs to get his head in the game. The game is not over, tell him not to quit.

Dallas did get one more shot, an improbable hail mary pass that fell incomplete.

John Maddens encouragement to Romo, and our challenge to these girls, is to encourage them to keep their head in the games, to not quit, to push forward despite their weaknesses, and failures. In small ways in these Saturday games, attitudes and habits are built that will serve them for a lifetime.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9