Kevin’s Conversations: Winning Well
The Villanova Wildcats embark on a journey this week to defend their national championship in the the NCAA men’s basketball national tournament, otherwise known as The Big Dance.
Villanova goes into this tournament as the overall number one ranked seed as they followed up last year’s national championship with another excellent regular season. While they have had very good regular seasons over the past few years, they didn’t go into last year’s tournament as the big name favorite as they hadn’t had much success in recent tournaments and they also didn’t have the national prestige of programs like Duke or Kentucky or North Carolina. This year, however, nobody will be overlooking Villanova.
My affection for this team is evident from the couple times I’ve already written about them. Anytime one of your teams wins a championship there is naturally going to be great feelings of joy and exuberance. But with this team, it more than just the winning. It is the way they win and the way they carry themselves as a team. This Villanova Wildcat team has done a great job of putting their egos in check and putting the team first. They stay humble and keep their focus on playing for their school and their teammates and playing the game with respect. On top of all that, they play so hard and with so much effort and will routinely out-tough the competition. Despite their great success, this team has maintained a great attitude and perspective. Now, nobody is perfect, but it is awfully hard to find anything to dislike about this team. Then again, I am biased, of course. 🙂
On this blog, we often bemoan the many things we see done wrong in the Christian world. High profile churches and pastors and ministries and personalities are our familiar targets. But we sometimes also won’t hold back on those not so high profile if we think they are deserving of a whacking. There are times when we probably take it too far or speak where we would be better off keeping our mouths closed (or our typing dormant). We are far from perfect ourselves. But that doesn’t change the fact that there are a lot of prominent shenanigans and worse that go on in the name of Christ that are definitively wrong and worthy of criticism.
Sometimes I wish I could take that Villanova Wildcat mindset and implant it in the minds and hearts of many of these big time pastors and ministries and personalities that represent Christianity to a large swath of the population due to their circle of influence and notoriety. Where it would be all about looking out for and taking care of those under their care and influence and in faithfully representing the name on the front of their uniform – that of Christ. Where the focus wouldn’t be on promoting their latest book or in drawing more into their program or gaining more followers on Facebook or Twitter. But rather it would be on doing the right thing in each and every circumstance, even in the hard things. Even if the cost may be losing some followers or popularity or even worse.
Easy for me to say as I’ve never faced the pressures that come with having so many people looking up to you and so many others wanting something from you. I often fail to keep my focus on doing the right things in my own circumstances. And that is without the intoxicating number of circumstances and pressures and temptations that come with having a large realm of responsibility and acclaim. I certainly wouldn’t want all my screw ups broadcast to the rest of the world so that they could whack at me.
But we are also familiar with that saying of, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The Bible tells us that those who teach will be judged more strictly. Some of our “teachers”, most notably the famous ones, are planting egg on the face of Christ to the world, even as they believe they are bringing more shine to their own faces as they gain more adoration and more ability to get what they want and to get away with it.
Yet, there are those who do have the Villanova Wildcat mindset. There are pastors and churches and ministries who are routinely sacrificing of themselves for the benefit of those under their care. Who are serving their people and reaching out to the margins of society and stretching themselves thin to minister to others. Who are not seeking their own glory but rather that of Christ. They are putting the team ahead of themselves and doing whatever it takes for the sake of the team and the sake of Christ. And there are many of them. Some who are even famous.
This extends beyond even those in formal positions of ministry and leadership. To the laity and parishioners and congregants and “common” folk who are working hard in life to fulfill their calling before God to provide for and serve their families and others around them, who are regularly sacrificing themselves for the benefit of others.
Again, we know that none of us are perfect. Far from it. But let’s be grateful for those who time and again are putting others before themselves. Who are not seeking their own fame and glory, but rather the fame and glory of God. Some may even end up attaining fame as such can happen more than ever in today’s world, but that is not what they are all about.
Let us be able to celebrate when those with a Villanova Wildcat mindset win a championship. Even when the championship is in the form of forgoing oneself and reaching out to another in need when nobody else knows about it. These types of victories happen everyday all around us. Let us be thankful for them and Lord we pray that they would become even more abundant.
I think it’s not just about winning…it’s about how we compete.
This is good stuff, Kevin…
I am curious. Does Villanova go after the “one and done” sort of recruits or do they put a team together the old way? With a bunch of juniors and seniors getting most of the playing time?
(Not directly related to your article but figured you would know. 🙂 )
Villanova’s focus is much more on putting a team together the traditional way. They are very upperclassmen driven. They’ll occassionally pursue the one-and- doners, but it’s not their main mode of operation.
Ironically, they currently have a freshman on the team who is a potential one-and-doner (Omari Spellman). But about a month before the season started, he was declared ineligible by the NCAA on some stupid technicality of a pretty much useless and antiquated rule. So he won’t get to play until next year.
Thanks. I like schools that win the old way. My Sooners did that the last couple of years.
Of course, rare is the one and done guy who looks at OU as a first choice… 🙂
Article in this morning’s newspaper: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/colleges/villanova/20170316_Kern__Attitude__commitment_are_hallmarks_of_Villanova_Basketball.html