This story appears in FCA Magazine’s July/August 2018 issue.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
A wonderful athletic director I knew had a saying on his business card: “Sports is life with the volume turned up.”
Think about it: Sports has its own section of the newspaper devoted to it. There are at least a half-dozen networks and countless websites devoted to analyzing every move 24 hours a day. All the “noise” has given people a sense of entitlement to criticize and judge and express a variety of opinions, thus turning the volume way up.
Being an athlete is not for the faint-hearted or weak-minded. And neither is being a coach! If you have been called to a position of leadership (either as a coach or as an athlete), you will inevitably be making decisions that impact those around you. As John Maxwell said, “Leading others takes courage. Knowing the right decision is usually easy. Making the right decision is hard.”
Such responsibility requires vision and input to make decisions that rise above all the noise.
VISION: “Where there is no vision, the people perish...”
—Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
Moses was chosen by God to deliver what many consider to be the first recorded “vision.” It contained core values by which the people of Israel were instructed to live. The Ten Commandments provided clear focus and a foundation for their decision-making process.
During my coaching years, the vision for our program was emphasized daily. It became the focal point of our culture and it guided the behavior of each individual associated with our team. Habakkuk 2:2 (NIV) says, “Then the LORD replied: Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”
Let’s break down these instructions:
Write down the vision (goals, core values).
Make it plain on tablets (clear, meaningful, applicable).
So he may run (act upon it, so it’s reflected in behavior and actions).
Who reads it (coaches, players, parents, boosters, anyone).
Following these guidelines, the vision for our program was formed. It served as the foundation for the way we treated ourselves and one another. It was the measuring stick for decision-making and accountability. It was our focus amidst the noise.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
—Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
It is essential to have trusted relationships among all the noise and distraction of this world. In an article titled “Mentoring in the Old Testament,” Travis Snode identifies three characteristics of mentoring relationships: The relationship must be close, it must be transparent, and the mentor must genuinely desire the best for his or her protégé.
Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, served as a mentor. In a typical move for many young leaders, Moses was trying to do it all. Jethro saw this, and he knew it wasn’t in Moses’ best interest, so he stepped in: “… What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you…” (Exodus 18:17-19, NIV)
Mentors like Jethro are invaluable. They give us truth through observation and love.
“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life.” (Proverbs 19:20)
God selected Joshua as Moses’ successor, but before he was ready to take on that calling, he spent 40 years of quality time as a mentee. Forty years! On several occasions, both Moses and God reminded Joshua to be “strong and courageous” (Deuteronomy 31:6-7; 23). So, when it came time for Joshua to lead, the advice was the same:
“… Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” (Joshua 10:25, NIV)
As a strong and courageous leader, remember these two foundational pieces. First, develop and live by a vision that reflects your core values. And second, be purposeful about the relationships in your life. Then, when the noise inevitably comes, you will be equipped to stay strong and remain focused on the vision ahead.
Photos courtesy of Sue Ramsey