Mastering the Ordinary
“Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’”- Luke 9:23
So often, as athletes, we dream of making the extraordinary play: taking the last-second shot, making the game-clinching goal, delivering the critical play that seals the victory. In preparing my athletes for success, I encourage them to visualize the execution of our plan at the critical moment. However, we must not forget the reality of sports. In order to be ready for that extraordinary moment, we have to master the ordinary. What do I mean? Great athletes are made in the off-season, on the practice field, in the early mornings when no one is watching. When we hear the back-stories of great athletes, the reoccurring theme is the diligence they applied in the daily grind, taking care of the ordinary, daily duties necessary to be at their best when the game was on the line.
One of my favorite coaching stories is from John Wooden. He spent hours training his athletes on the mundane, such as tying their shoes. It was paramount to Wooden that his players always embrace the daily routine. He knew if his team ever hoped to rise up to the challenges they faced in competition, they had to be exceptional in the ordinary.
When Christ spoke the words found in Luke 9:23, he was echoing those same sentiments. He was addressing His disciples, who had recently experienced the miracle of the mass feeding of the 5,000. Yet, after such a major, public showing of His power, He drew them away and reminded them that being true followers meant submitting and taking up their cross daily.
As Oswald Chambers reminds us: “It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God— but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people— and this is not learned in five minutes.” So, if we take a good, hard look at ourselves, how are we doing in the little, ordinary decisions of daily life? Are we making daily habits of living as Christ’s disciples? If not, then start today and shift your focus to the simple things in life that need refinement. Only then will you be prepared for greatness for God and your sport.
- As an athlete or coach, do you maximize the opportunities to grow and improve during the off-season?
- What daily athletic duties are you less diligent at because you consider them boring or mundane?
- List a few areas in your Christian walk that could use more practice. How can you work to improve this seemingly “ordinary” attributes?
- Proverbs 12:27
- Proverbs 6: 6-8
- 1 Timothy 4:14-16