Years ago, I served as not only a HS coach but also as an athletic director. The year before I had been an associate coach for a team with immense talent and size. We had played against some major competition that often included multiple future D1 players on the floor at any given time. (In fact we were suiting up multiple players that would go D1.) Yet the year that I was the AD we didn’t have that talent or size on our squad… we had gone from 5 guys over 6’4” to no one over 6’2”… from 6 seniors that went on to play college ball to no upperclassmen that would make that transition… I think you see the change, as did our parents/fans.
Yet as the AD I had to still make a decision on who I would schedule as our opponents and what level of tournaments we would play in… we obviously were not equipped to compete at the same level as the team from the previous year. Yet I chose to maintain a very strong schedule (and we were in a conference that was stacked with size and talent.) I planned to play some teams that I knew were going to give us an old-fashioned beat-down. I allowed for us to remain in a conference that I knew would give us some old-fashioned beat-downs. (And to my guys’ credit, they competed at times at levels that surprised us all.)
The reason I bring it up is because I remember one particular conversation with a parent. She approached me and explained to me that she though I needed to start lightning the schedule so we didn’t lose as badly… (and there were some really lopsided scoreboards that year.) To our parents/fans the idea of success centered around a bunch of electronic lights that would turn on an off in the blink of an eye… the scoreboard. Yet to me the scoreboard is such a false indicator of success, as it does not record improvement, effort, opponents’ abilities, etc. It only records current circumstances. I responded to that parent by reminding her that the year before I remember her cheering us on as we beat some other teams badly… and I even asked her why it was ok for other peoples’ kids to get beaten badly but not ours???
I regularly tried to remind my guys that our goals were long-term… that we were more concerned with developing work ethic and character than winning a game. Don’t get me wrong, I love winning games but that is merely circumstances and is short-term; (the scoreboard turns off after every game.)
In life we often find ourselves in the midst of difficult circumstances and tend to ask why God would plan or allow for such circumstances. We are consumed by looking for the cause (the why) behind our circumstances. (And a side note: sometimes we are in bad circumstances because we “played poorly” and didn’t do what the “Coach” said.) Yet we can’t deny that in Scripture we see God planning for or allowing for life’s schedule to seem to be stacked against us.
Can I encourage you this week that no matter what circumstances you are facing to trust that God has a long-term vision for you? He knows the plans He has for your future… (see Jeremiah 29:11.) He has promised that trials will strengthen you… (see James 1:2-5.)
That passage in James mentions the idea of being perfected (vs 4), which is another way of saying that you are maturing. Here is how I believe a mature believer responds to difficult circumstances:
1. He doesn’t have to ask “why” or find a “cause” because he fully trusts in God’s promises for the long-term…
2. He drops the “ca” off of “cause” and focuses on the “use”… in other words instead of asking why me, he asks how can I be used in this? It is a focus of how God can use us in the midst of trials to reach/help others!
What I love is that God will (and plans to) use us, even when we have “played poorly” to get ourselves in bad circumstances… why, “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Just as I hoped my players would not only trust my coaching, I hoped they would trust my scheduling. When they realized the schedule was hard, not because of the scoreboard but because of their long-term good, we even had fun when getting our butts kicked…
Trust God’s plan!