Monday, May 3, 2010

May 3, 2010 - Iron Man

What makes a good player great? What is it that starts to separate the masses that play a game into those few that excel at a game? (Nearly 600,000 boys played varsity high school basketball this year; only around 4,000 played Division 1 college ball; less than 400 in the NBA.)

The easy thought is to simply chalk it up to genetics and athleticism; the biggest and best athletes rise to the top. There is some truth to that idea; every person does have a genetic pre-disposition for size and athleticism. Yet it doesn’t take long to find great athletes on playgrounds that never made it past high school ball. Yes genetics play some part: I can’t teach a kid to be taller (but I can teach him to play bigger); I can’t teach a kid to run faster than his genetics allow (but I can teach him to think quicker.) The opposite is also true; it doesn’t take long to find the physically smaller, physically slower player that is excelling at the highest levels.

So what does set players apart? One key area in my mind is “discipline”! The great players are generally the most disciplined players. When we here the word “discipline” we often think of punishment. Yet that is not the main idea of the word. Punishment can be used to help instill discipline but they are not synonyms.

To be disciplined simply means that someone is committed to a task; unwavering in his approach; faithful to get the job done. I love the John Wooden phrase that says, “Discipline yourself, so others won’t have to.”

At the highest level of basketball I think of Kobe and Lebron, obviously great athletes (with incredible genetics); yet considered to be 2 of the hardest working guys in the NBA. I think of rookie Wes Matthews of the Utah Jazz. Wes was undrafted out of college yet is now starting for the Jazz at shooting guard and performing very well. In an interview with Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, he commented on Matthew’s work ethic as the key!

Another word that comes from this idea of discipline is the word “disciple.” You could call the aforementioned players disciples of basketball. The question for us carries over to our Christian walks. Are we truly disciples of Christ? Are we committed to not only serving Him but also the training it takes to be a great servant? Are we faithful to be in the Word having our minds transformed? Are we committed to be on the “court of life” and making a difference (or just content to go into our closed “practice sessions” called church)? Are we running the race as those that want to win? (See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Let me encourage you to find a “training partner”: not just for your physical workouts, but also for your spiritual accountability. It is always easier to stay committed when we have someone to lean on; someone to push us; someone to encourage us; someone to rebuke us….

Proverbs 27: 17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

(I guess this fits well with the upcoming release of Iron Man 2 this week.)

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