My favorite sporting event is HERE…NCAA March Madness. Got my brackets filled out. Collected brackets for our staff competition. Set the DVR to catch the games I want to see. I’m all set and ready to go. And just in case you didn’t know…GO CATS! (Kentucky Wildcats that is)
You may have seen the University of Virginia coach, Tony Bennett, give praise to Christ and honor his Dad in his post-game interview on Sunday after his team won the ACC Tournament, in addition to winning the ACC Regular Season Title. It’s been a great season for UVA, Coach Bennett, and Cavalier fans. (I confess, I pull for UK and whoever is playing Duke, North Carolina, and now Syracuse as part of the ACC as well, so I’ve been a UVA fan several times this season!).
The Richmond Times Dispatch wrote an article on Coach Bennett, highlighting his faith, called, Cavaliers’ Success: By the (Good) Book.” You can click here to read the article. In the event you don’t, here are what coach Bennett calls the five ‘pillars’ he learned from his Father (a former basketball coach who developed the five pillars) that are the foundation for UVA’s success on the court (and in life as the players apply them there as well).
Let me clear, I’m not predicting that UVA is going to win the title because Coach Bennett is a Christian, because he thanks Christ in his interview, or because he has a coaching/team building philosophy built on Biblical principles. Even if they win, we must be careful not to equate ‘success’ as an indicator of God’s blessing in our lives. That’s the root of prosperity theology – “if you obey, serve, pray, or _____, then good things will happen in your life” – like winning a Basketball Championship.
God doesn’t always work that way. What about other Christian coaches who have teams in the tournament? Are they less blessed or favored by God if their team doesn’t win? What about believers struggling with health issues, financial hardships, emotional/psychological disorders, or sin strongholds? Are they not doing their faith ‘right’ since they aren’t ‘blessed’ with good things? Just because things go well, and we give honor and praise to Christ, doesn’t mean we’ve done anything meriting God’s grace, goodness, or blessings in our lives. We’re sinners saved by grace and every ‘good thing’ that happens in our lives is a ‘gift from above’ (James 1:17).
Theology lesson over, now let’s apply it to basketball…and life. As I read the article on Coach Bennett’s five pillars I couldn’t help but think of their application to the church. Look again: Humility, Passion, Unity, Servanthood, Thankfulness. I can’t think of any place where those traits wouldn’t pay rich dividends toward “success,” regardless of how you define the word success.
Two things for you to consider and reflect upon:
1) Prayerfully reflect on how you’re applying his five pillars in your own life. Are they, in ever-increasing measure, being evidenced in your church? Home? School? Neighborhood? Sports Team? Band? Small Group?
2) Prayerfully consider what your five pillars are. There are a myriad of truths/principles/pillars we can glean from the Bible. Coach Bennett (Sr & Jr) wrote down and built their coaching/life philosophy around their five. While our levels, and places, of leadership vary, everyone is called – and has opportunities – to lead in some capacity. What ‘pillars’ govern how you life your life and lead in your circles of influence? Take some time to prayerfully consider what things are guiding your life. Are they Biblical? Are they the ones you desire? Are they ones that God has given you or have you picked them up from other sources? If they need to change, what are you going to do to change them? Where are they taught or illustrated in the Bible.
Consider these for example: Love; patience, holiness, purity, excellence, preparation, joy, kindness, just to name a few.
What ‘pillars’ guide your life and areas of leadership? Pray through it. Reflect upon it. Ask God to help you make changes as He leads.