Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Spiritual Lessons from the NY Jets

I gravitate towards books by or about explorers and sports coaches. I like the discipline these leaders show as they lead themselves and others to pursue goals and meet objectives. They strive for excellence and I find motivation for my own journey in reading about them. 

In Collision Low Crossers, Nicholas Dawidoff writes about a year he spent with the New York Jets football team. He spent the year mainly with the defensive coaches but also spent some time with the offensive coaches and had interactions with the players. 

In 2010, Rex Ryan's second year as coach, the Jets were believed to have Super Bowl potential but because of close losses and damage due to infighting they finished with a losing record.

In the book, Dawidoff chronicled the football year--from pre-draft, through the draft, into training camp, during the long season, and into the off-season. One emphasis of Dawidoff's was the way that the coaches strove for excellence. They did this in three ways: 
  1. through attention to detail; 
  2. by organizing and executing plans; and 
  3. through constant growth and improvement. 
One takeaway for me from this book was to ask how those three points could be applied to both ministry and spiritual development. 

Do I pay attention to detail? Am I focused on the basic habits that I need to be successful? Do I read the Bible and pray? Do I worship with other Christians? What do I watch, read, listen to, and do they impact me with negativity or with a proper focus on God? If we do not pay attention to these "little" things, we will find later on that we have developed larger problems. 

Do I organize and execute a plan? How do I plan to serve God this year? How will I grow? What ministries am I involved in and how can they be organized to bring greater glory to God? Wandering aimlessly in our faith brings us the same result as the Israelites in the desert--forty years without reaching a destination. In partnership with God, we can make plans to serve him and then follow through on them. 

Do I seek constant growth? In my personal life with God, am I content to allow "a little anger" or "a little greed" to stay in my life? In my ministry, am I happy to reach a certain plateau and then stay there? God calls us to more. Our journey is one of becoming more like Christ. There is always room to grow and we must seek this growth even if it is difficult. 

Although a secular pursuit like winning football games may not seem to have much to do faith, a thoughtful reading of Collision Low Crossers caused me to reflect on my faith and my ministry and to be challenged to grow and do better in both.

Jeremy Hoover is the minister at the Otisville Church of Christ in Otisville, Michigan. His website is at jeremyhoover.com. He is an avid sports fan who enjoys biographies about athletes and books by coaches. His favorite sports are hockey, where he roots for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and football, where he pulls for the New England Patriots.