When Choosing the Hard Way is Worth It

I’m a coach. It’s actually what I went to school for. I thought I was going to be a teacher and a coach. Yet for the last 20 years I have been a musician/songwriter/worship leader for a vocation. Can’t make it up. 🙂

It’s crazy how being a coach is kinda like being a worship leader/pastor. In both roles you get to pour into other peoples’ lives and try to do what ever you can to help them be successful. I love both of these roles.

I am a coach of girl’s varsity basketball at a Christian school. Doing that while being on the road doing concerts is a crazy experience, but my staff, family, and the school are very helpful to make it work. My daughter Allison plays for the team and so that is a deeper blessing to do this.

Entering this season we had a total of eight girls for the whole varsity team: two juniors, five freshmen, and an eighth grader. Only four of them played varsity last year.

We’re not big and not super fast. We have no real superstars. On the first day of practice, we all understood that every girl was going to have to learn nearly every position and be willing to do things she had not done before.

We would also need to be the most in-shape team we’ve ever been because with so few players, if we were going to win games, we would have to run the floor better than anyone.

One of the hardest things was learning to practice offense and defense. We had no one to play against. You need ten; we had eight. The assistant coaches would admirably stand in but it’s not the same.

We literally would learn during games because finally we had competition. Our timeouts during games were more about teaching and learning than motivation and adjustments.

The deck was stacked against these girls.

They are young, small in size, and small in numbers. Injuries would have to be non-existent, they’d have to learn on the fly during games, and they’d have to learn to play as five girls on the floor knowing what every position does in case they needed to play it.

It would take these girls self-discipline, mental toughness, physical stress, and, most of all, a will to not quit or say it’s not worth it.

We started our season on November 18th. We ended our season on March 7th.

The result? 20-4 Regular season and conference tournament champions!

Conference Champions! The joy of accomplishing the hard thing!

Conference Champions! The joy of accomplishing the hard thing!

Pretty fun I must tell you. When I heard them cheer, it was actually like all the tense air of the long practices, bumps and bruises, and mental fatigue just disappeared like fog being burned away by the sun.

What does this have to do with us? Let’s get excited about doing hard things this spring.

Our world is about shortcuts. It’s why the escalator is packed with people but the staircase is empty.

We’re looking for easier ways to get things done with less investment, less effort, and less risk.

“Get cash instantly.”
“Lose 20 pounds in one week!”
“Become a millionaire overnight!”
“Have it delivered tomorrow.”
“Quick assembly.”

Conveniences aren’t always a bad thing.

But there are experiences we’re missing out on because we’re looking for the easiest way rather than doing whatever it takes to do it right. Sometimes doing it right is hard.

“Indolence wants it all and gets nothing; the energetic have something to show for their lives.” Proverbs 13:4 The Message

I want to have something to show for my life. I bet you do too.

What is something hard you want to do?

Write a book? Run a marathon? Forgive? Make something from scratch? Invite the difficult co-worker to your church?

I’d love to hear your thoughts below in the comments. It’s my way of cheering for you.

Who knows, even with the odds stacked against you, you might still come out conference champions.

God is good all the time!


Set The Temp!

Sorry I missed last week. No excuse just missed it. Might be the weather in Minnesota. Kind of a bummer. It’s like we have become the state of one season: wet, dreary, and cold. I still have hope.

It makes me think of my approach to each day’s challenges lately. I will confess I don’t think I have been taking on my days very well lately. I have found myself feeling like I’m on defense a lot and not moving forward. It’s not an inspiring way to wake up.

It’s not a great feeling to go places thinking a battle could come towards me, what the environment will be and, in a some of cases, what are people thinking of me.

Is there any thing worse than wondering if the whispers are about you and are they good?

Fear creeps in and then crud…defeat.

I love sports. Watching, playing, teaching, but especially coaching. I think it’s a lot being a pastor. You are given a group of people to teach skills, teach plays, inspire, hold accountable, send out, tend to injuries, send back out, make in-game adjustments, cheer on, make substitutes, and all along try to equip them for something bigger than themselves.

Maybe it’s too simple of an analogy but for our conversation, it’s workable.

When I coach my girls’ team, I often speak about trying to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer.

The thermostat sets the temperature while a thermometer reflects the temperature.

As a player, you want your team to set the pace, tempo, flow, attitude of the game. You, of course, make some adjustments, but you really want to stick to your game plan.

If your opponent gets frustrated or takes cheap shots, you don’t want your team to do the same. You don’t want your team to respond negatively to refrees’ calls that don’t go your way.

Doing that you become thermometers because you are letting the other team influence how you play and what you do. A player who is a thermostat is not changed by her opponent. You stay to the course you have chosen.

Teams that stay thermostats get better, win more games, and walk away feeling they did their best.

Jesus says we are the light of the world! Not the mirrors of the world. Light changes how a room feels, what it looks like. A mirror just redirects whatever light there might be. If any light leaves, so does the purpose of the mirror.

What if we focus on being a thermostat rather than a thermometer?

That means when you get up in the morning you set the climate for your children rather than reflecting what they are like.

If your friends are crabby and gossiping, then you change that temp by getting their eyes focused on something else and not fueling the gossip with your own to be part of the group.

When you arrive at worship on Sunday, you become a worshipper rather than waiting to see if it’s your favorite songs or favorite pastor giving the sermon.

Didn’t Jesus say go into the world but not be of it? Thermostat or Thermometer?

Is it easy? Nope!

Does it always change? Not right away but I believe it will even if it takes a longer than you want.

Why? Because the Kingdom of God doesn’t lose.

The Holy Spirit who lives in us will not lose. If the Holy Spirit flows from us, it will do whatever it wants and it WILL be good! Because God is good!

It’s not about manipulation or being in control of people. It’s about living in the Kingdom of God which is all love, grace, truth, joy, acceptance, healing, and sanctuary. It’s about being Jesus to those who have forgotten or don’t even believe He is in the room.

You are that thermostat!

It’s not a calling because callings separate us into groups where some are and some are not. Instead it’s what Jesus made us to be in His death and resurrection: a thermostat.

I have to get better starting today. I can’t just try. In the words of Master Yoda “There is no try. Do or not do!”

That’s a thermostat.

Can you do?

Let me know.

God is good all the time!