Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Playing To Win...

I come from a sports family. We were blessed growing up to be involved in and have the skills to participate in sports at a high level. It is always interesting to reflect upon my athletic experiences and where they fit into our culture and young peoples’ lives today. Before I go on, I should say that every college football team I wanted to win this weekend lost. It was a rough weekend to feel good about my teams. Don’t worry, I am almost over it.

We have all lost in our lives at one point or another and I think we can agree that it is not a good feeling. After we lose a game or experience some kind of defeat in our lives, it is always good to ask some follow up questions to see what the exact problem was in the game or situation and why it didn’t work out the way it was suppose to. It could be the equivalent of watching game film and trying to figure out what went wrong.

My older brother is an assistant college football coach. He is a very gifted and talented guy, not to mention a wonderful son, brother, and husband. I visited him this weekend and got to seem him in action, and unfortunately his team was one of the losses of the weekend. (If you are reading this coach, you’ll get them next time!) When I was talking to him after the game and asking his reflections about his coaching experience, his philosophy inspired me. It basically came down to a few simple determinations. Number one, he said you play to win. And number two, you have to set your team up to make the plays necessary to win. Of course a lot of other things go into the preparation and execution in order to win a game, but the strategy made sense to me. The strategy did not only make sense in football, but in life. Here me out..

PLAY TO WIN. In my conversations with many people, I often get the feeling that many are not playing this game of life to win. I am sometimes amazed when I hear outlooks on life where people limit themselves, make excuses, and put thing off. Perhaps one of the biggest road blocks from playing to win is an attitude of minimalism that has captured many hearts. Why overwork myself to get an A when I can just get a C? I am tired, why put in the extra reps in the weight room? Why do the assignment when I can just copy off my best friend who already has it done? Why exercise today? I have heard them all and more!

My friends, my bold assessment of many lives today is that most young people are playing to LOSE. We know our victory is found in striving for greatness and living for the Lord who calls us to one day be with Him forever. If that is the goal, why do we choose a path that is leading to mediocrity or failure? Why are we choosing a path that will lead us to fall short and at the end of the game leading us to wonder what went wrong? If we want to play to win, we have to adjust our focus and perspective on the whole game. To live for our Lord and follow Him at all costs is the recipe for winning. To make Him our end and respond to His call to love and transform the world will lead us to victory. Let’s put first things first. Let’s play to win. You in?

SET YOURSELF UP TO MAKE THE PLAYS. Once we are in the game, the moment of the big play is not the most important moment. The preparation is perhaps more important. To set our self up to make the big decisions, to choose the Lord at school, practice, work, or at home, we have to set ourselves up to be successful. Tools such as prayer, the sacraments, virtuous friendships, and healthy lifestyle, all point to a radical commitment to Jesus and can aid us in the big plays of life. If we are not committed to pray and a personal relationships with the Lord and we do not base our lives in the sacraments, we will not be ready to make the plays to win.

My friends, playing to win and be prepared to make the plays is a great recipe for our spiritual lives. This week, do some reflecting and look at your outlook on life and see if you are playing to win and practicing things in your life to give yourself the tools necessary to be successful in the game.
According to my favorite coach these things can lead a team to victory.

God Bless You,

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