The Monette Buffalos 1981 championship team. I still love these guys. At center is Coach Jim Ellis, who will travel with me this summer on a mission trip to Cordoba, Argentina. That's me, #34 in the short shorts.
I love sports.
And for me, there is no greater time in sports than March. The NCAA basketball championship, known more commonly as “March Madness,” has provided me with some of my greatest memories. Coach Jim Valvano of the NC State Wolfpack, God rest his soul: Phi Slamma Jamma; Darrell Griffith of Louisville, who at less than 6 feet had a 41/2 foot vertical jump; the legacies of schools like Duke, Kentucky, Indiana and others. Thrilling stuff.
I was a fair high school athlete, not because of any particular God-given talent, but because at my small school, if you wanted to be “somebody” you pretty much had to excel at sports. I worked hard, had great guidance and “encouragement” from some great coaches and had a fair jumper from 25 feet on the left wing. For a kid, I was a decent power forward.
Thirty years later, I still relive almost daily the memories of 1981 as part of a championship team that may have been among the best junior high teams ever to play in Arkansas. There was beauty in the way my teammates and I played together, and when we were “on,” it was magic.
At the same time, we were a rowdy bunch, and I’m fully convinced had we not had a truly brilliant coach at the helm, we would have never experienced the success that we did.
Coach Jim Ellis harnessed our rowdiness, and our talent, and made us greater tha we really were. It wasn’t always a fairy tale with Coach Ellis. Aside from my dad, that man yelled at me more than anyone on the planet. He once compared my defensive ability to that of his dog.
I miss those days. I miss having a coach in my life. I miss having someone who will call me out and put me in my place. I miss having someone who will take an interest in me to make me better than I really am.
I’d pay good money to have that again, and so I think I will.
Before I became a regular blogger about a month ago, I subscribed to several blogs from authors whose topics interested me. One of those was Michael Hyatt, chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, arguably the leading publishing house in the world for Christian authors. In a recent post he featured the services of a Christian Coaching firm called Ministry Coaching International, www.ministrycoaching.org and it peaked my interest.
I’m not a “minister.” While I’m involved in some personal humanitarian interests, I have a day job that requires focus. I work with 30 men who are all some of the finest entrepreneurial thinkers in the country and it’s a daily task just to keep up with them. But my personal ministries provide added fulfillment, and they are important to me, and for several months now I’ve followed God’s calling to serve Him better through writing. There’s a manuscript now that awaits publishing but the work is not yet done. It needs focus.
About a month ago, I realized I was losing focus. My personality is easily distracted. I love to learn and when I find something that really interests me, I want to get involved. Lately, dozens of those interests have popped up, and while they are all good things, they have become a distraction to the task at hand. Oh, how that Harley Davidson awaits…
Realizing this, I sat down one morning and created a list of 7 priorities on which to stay focused. I printed that list and taped it to several key locations in my home where I could see it frequently. The list included: studying the Word; using my gifts; serving my family; focusing on my health; building streams of additional revenue; taking personal time; and developing a diversified investment portfolio.
For three weeks the exercise worked.
The “list” helped me focus. Then the demons of distraction made their way back into my life. Other things about which I read, seemed interesting. I checked them out. I pursued some of them; played around with some of them, and before I knew it, the seven priorities were becoming an afterthought.
At this point in my life, I can’t afford the distractions. I need someone to yell at me.
As it all played out, Hyatt’s blog and the topic of Christian coaching came to top of mind. So I picked up the phone and called the Ministry Coaching International team.
The conversations culminated yesterday with a 45-minute phone call with the president of the organization. We discussed my goals and my “issues.”
Things started clicking and I liked what I heard. Among his qualifications are that he’s a: professional fundraiser, ordained Presbyterian minister, specialist in organizational resource development; and last, but not least, a clinical psychologist. I like that.
As we discussed my problematic issues with “focus,” he was able to get to the heart of the issue about 40 minutes into the conversation. It may be very well likely that I have a self-destructive personality, a self-sabotaging bent.
I took a deep breath and sat back in my seat on that one. I think he may be right.
For a man, there is nothing like “clicking” with another man. One with whom you can be transparent and who will not find fault in who you are. I miss having a coach and I’m doing something about it.
Ten minutes after our conversation I sent an email with a subject line: “Let’s do this.”
I’m ready. Time to get back in the game.
Let’s do this. Let the Madness and the yelling begin.