Thursday, February 11, 2016

Coaching, Running, and Church.

I had a close friend at work many years ago who would talk to me about her faith.  During breaks we would sit and talk about millions of things, but she always managed to tie our conversation to faith.  One evening on a walk, she told me about a Bible journaling activity that she did called
            In coaching I find my athletes have very different motivations and differ in their dedication.  While there may be even more than three groups, I can usually divide them up into three.  There are, of course, my athletes who regardless of talent level are always committed, putting everything they have into a workout and doing the little things to get better.  A fire or passion is apparent that drives them to go for excellence on a daily basis.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who simply show up because they signed to run.  With no passion or drive, they are only there to survive, and running feels like a job for them, not something that brings joy or fulfillment.  Luckily for me I rarely have the uncommitted runner, and if I do, it is only one or two.  Those two groups are very easy for me to coach.  You know every day what you are going to get, how hard you can push them, and what effort they will be putting forth.  The third and final group are those that ride the fence.  On beautiful weather days when things are going well, they are passionate and will dive into workouts.  On the cold days, the lonely days, when there are opportunities to come in and lift and do extra work to get ahead, they will often miss out because they are committed elsewhere, or it does not fit into their current mindset.  For years the fence riders have driven me nuts because after a great day, they will come back with a sub par day.  The fire that burnt the afternoon before has all but gone out, and I am forced to search and look for new ways to bring them back.  If I believe I have them figured out, they shock me and flip flop once again. I hadn’t understood why this group had caused me more trouble than the ones who had no motivation and just did it.  Two nights ago I was which is picking a certain SCRIPTURE and writing it down.  After reading that scripture, you write down your OBSERVATION on what is being said or the point of the verse.  This usually requires more reading to completely understand, which is where it gets fun.  After I have a grasp on what is being said, I write down the APPLICATION and how it may tie into my life or someone with whom I am close.  I follow this up with a PRAYER to finish the S.O.A.P.  The verse I was reading was Revelation 3:16. "So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of my mouth."  It was after reading this verse that I was reminded that there aren’t three groups but two.  A true Christian who has confessed his sins and is following God will not be spat out, but a faker will, one who does not truly believe and follow.  Either you are in or you are out.  That may change daily, but the ones who will be saved, just as the ones who will truly be successful in reaching their genetic potential, are in the group of the committed.  I am not saying all committed runners are committed Christians, only that one who will truly commit to success can indeed reach it, and one who truly commits to God can be saved. My last piece to this puzzle to decipher is what the committed look like.  We see churches full of people, especially around the holidays: Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Easter to pick the big ones.  Yet they are absent the rest of the year.  If church wasn’t so important, why go then and not at all?  The real reason is they are going for themselves and not for Christ, the one who died for their sins.  If I have a runner who only commits to working out when it works best for them or on the days that they feel good or don’t need extra sleep or perhaps their favorite football team isn’t playing, they will never be successful.  People too often miss what church is about the same way they miss what practice is about: learning, growing, and coming together.  I personally love to run alone but when I am down and out, tired and weak but know I have a teammate or a group waiting for me, I am going to suck it up and get there.  It is their strength that gets me through. 
Why would this logic not be the same with church?  “I pray on my own and feel closer to God by myself.”  I hear this a lot from young athletes.  I ask them if they have read the Bible, truly read it, cover to cover.  They, of course, say no.  I say come tell me that same statement once you have.  I have yet to have one person come back.  I know church works because of what it has done for me.  My life didn’t really pick up, and things didn’t start falling into place.  My leg wasn’t healed until I made church a priority.  My worst attendance in 4 years is 46 services out of 52.  When church became a priority so did reading my Bible, and suddenly all those things I had heard happen in the Bible started to happen. You may call it good luck.   If you are looking for a miracle or help, try looking in a church,  If you are looking to get faster, try committing to practice.  

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