Successful Season

From our 7th/8th-grade basketball team celebration on 3/14/17

Last night we had our 7th/8th-grade basketball team celebration.  We won 2 games out of a whole lot more than that.  A losing record.  If I remember correctly, as a junior high and high school basketball player, I was always on a winning team.  So coaching a team that struggled was a challenge.

Going into our end of the season celebration, I wanted it to be a time of truthful encouragement.
There was a noticeable improvement from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, especially in relationship to our play versus the one team we played three times.

There also has been improvements in players in areas of confidence and self-control. 
BUT here is the biggest thing I shared with them last night and I tried to share throughout the season.
While we should want to play and practice well on the court and want to win, that is not the end goal.
While we should want to work hard and do well in the classroom, that is not the end goal.

“Whatever you do, do it well for the glory of God and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God.”

Here is what I reminded parents of at the beginning of the season and I want to remind us of this same truth at the end of the season.  

Here is the New Morning Mercies devotional I shared with the team and families at the end of the season.  

You’re going to hunger for some success in life. 
May you hunger for the complete success of the gospel in your heart. 

You and I don’t live by instinct. We are value-oriented, goal-oriented, purpose-oriented, and importance-oriented human beings. We are constantly rating everything in our lives. We all have things that are important to us and things that are not, things that mean a lot to us and things that mean very little. We willingly make sacrifices for one thing and refuse to sacrifice for another. We grieve the loss of one thing and celebrate the loss of another. We love what another person hates and we see as a treasure something that another person thinks is trash. We look at something and see beauty while the person next to us sees no beauty in it at all. Some things are so important to us that they shape the decisions that we make and the actions that we take. Some things command the allegiance of our hearts, while other things barely get our attention. 

In the center of this value system is our definition of success. No rational human being wants to be a failure. No one wants to think that he has wasted his life. No one wants to think that in the end she will look back and realize that she invested in things that just didn’t matter. Everyone wants to think that his or her life is or will be successful. But what is success? Is it judged by the size of your house, the prominence of your friends, the success of your career, the power of your position, the size of the pile of your possessions, the perfection of your physical beauty, the breadth of your knowledge, or the list of your achievements? The problem with all of these things is that they quickly pass away, and because they do, if you have lived for these things, you will eventually come up empty. 

Contrast that view of success with the success of God’s work in and through you. God offers you things of supreme value (his forgiveness, his presence, welcome into his kingdom, a clean conscience, and a pure heart). These things will never pass away. They are the eternally valuable gifts of divine grace. This leaves you with this question: “What do I really want in life: the success of God’s agenda of grace or the fulfillment of my catalog of desires?” At the end of the day, what do you long for: for God’s grace to do its work or for more of the stuff that this physical created world has to offer? Be honest. What kind of success are you hooking your heart to and how is it shaping the decisions you make and the actions you take? 

For further study and encouragement: 

Tripp, Paul David. New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional (p. 56). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

David Platt's sermon  "Sports and the Gospel" - www.radical.net/series/sports-and-the-gospel/