As many of you know, we lost a wonderful Christian Coach last week when John Wooden went to be with the Lord. Many people have been influenced by his life and I am certainly one of them. For you younger folks that were not around in the 1960's and 70's, I want to tell you a little about "Coach". I use that term because back then that's all you would need to say when referring to him. Everyone involved in basketball during that period knew who you were talking about when you said "Coach". His autobiography was entitled, "They Call Me Coach". It was the second book written by Coach that I read during that period, the first being a textbook entitled "Principles of Modern Basketball". Now you might be saying, "I thought you were a football coach?" I will let you in on a little secret. I actually started coaching basketball before coaching football. In fact my first coaching "job" was as a player/coach for the men's basketball team at 1st Baptist Church in Fullerton. I was seventeen years old, in my senior year of high school, coaching men from the ages of twenty to thirty five, some who had even played in college. Sometimes, when I look back, I wonder how it was that these older men ever paid any attention to me at all, but I had played so much from the time I was young that I had an intuitive sense of the game. I also coached basketball at three different high schools from freshman to varsity levels. During that time, I went to several clinics, some that featured Coach Wooden and had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times.
Coach Wooden's success at UCLA was unparalleled. He won 10 national championships. For those of you not familiar with college basketball, that is the most of any college coach in history. The best coach ever! But that is not what set him apart from everyone else. It was his example as a person that made him so unique. Here was a man that lived the type of values that he taught. As competitive as he was, it was more important that his players play the game correctly, than to win. He believed that if they did this, they would succeed, but more importantly they would learn lessons that would see them through life. His philosophy, contained in his now famous "Pyramid of Success", influenced my style of coaching tremendously as it did many other young coaches of that day. Most importantly, he set an example of how a Christian should conduct himself as a coach and as person. I will always be grateful for that example.
When the apostle Paul was in prison he wrote these words to the church in Eph 4:1-2 "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." These words describe the life of John Wooden. Humble, gentle, patient and truly loving. He believed that the most powerful way of being a testimony to Christ was by the way you live your life. I think of Paul saying "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."(1Co 11:1) This is the desire of my heart, how about you? It puts a lot of pressure on you when you tell to someone to follow your example. It certainly means that you better follow Paul's words in the Ephesians verses!
The good news is that God sent His Holy Spirit to work inside of us to help us live that life. We could never be this kind of example otherwise. That's what takes the pressure off of us and brings us joy. We just need to spend time with the Lord and allow His Holy Spirit to control our lives. That is how we can live a life worthy of His calling. I encourage all of us to look at the effect one person, living out his walk with Christ in humility and purpose can have in this world. Let us live our lives with that same determination, to follow "Coach" as he followed Christ. Let us seek daily to live and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit to glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
GAME PLAN: I highly recommend reading the book entitled "Coach Wooden: One on One" written by Jay Carty. It's very short, but contains a lot of Coach's ideas on how to live life according to the scriptures. LADIES it's not just for the guys. You will be blessed by it as well!
As always, may God bless you as you grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ
Coach (the other one J)