During this season of college (American) football, we are following this set of characteristics for our team –
Saluki Football Players are:
During the preseason I led teambuilding sessions on each characteristic and each week during the season my game day chapels will feature one of these character traits.
This past week the theme was: Saluki Football Players are Excellent.
After a very brief introduction to the theme, I asked for a volunteer to pray and a junior linebacker did so.
The outline of my talk follows.
1. What does excellence look like in a football uniform? Look around the room and you will see several of your teammates we would say are excellent in what they do. Excellence is best defined as a mindset that leads directly to excellent performance. During the 1993-1995 seasons, the University of Nebraska had an excellent running back. Listen to these statistics. In those three seasons, he had 506 carries, 3,102 yards rushing, that’s 6.18 yards per carry, and he scored 33 touchdowns. A friend of mine was on the Cornhuskers’ coaching staff during that era and I asked him what made that back so special. He said, “Every day at practice when we would run full team plays, he would carry the ball all the way to the end zone. No matter how close or far that was, he always took it to the end zone. When we said we were losing time by his doing that, he replied, ‘Coach, I intend to score every time I touch the ball.’ We decided we could adjust to that.” That is an excellent mindset that led directly to excellent performance.
2. In a similar way, the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Philippi from prison. In Philippians chapter 4, verse 8 we read, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”
3. The Apostle wrote to his friends about their mindset. He called them to dwell on a particular set of ideas.
· Whatever is true – fill your mind with truth, not error. Look for what is true, rather than constantly searching for error.
· Whatever is honorable – dwell on things worthy of honor.
· Whatever is right – rather than all that is wrong, contemplate what is right to do.
· Whatever is pure – corruption fills the minds of some. Our minds must seek purity.
· Whatever is lovely – much of society is obsessed with the ugliest parts of human nature. Dwell on all things lovely.
· Whatever is of good repute – think about the most respectable things in life.
· Things worthy of praise – the matters of life that lead to praising God and others.
· Dwell on these things to develop an excellence mindset.
4. I challenged our coaches and players to fill their minds with these things.
· Whatever is true – fill your mind with the things that are true about football and your teammates.
· Whatever is honorable – dwell on the things in college football that are worthy of honor.
· Whatever is right – rather than all that is wrong with the sport or our team, focus on what is right about them.
· Whatever is pure – rather than contemplating perceived corruption in the sport, think about all that is pure in it.
· Whatever is lovely – fill your minds with all that is lovely in your college football experience.
· Whatever is of good repute – think about the most respectable things you experience in this sport.
· Things worthy of praise – consider the things that would make you say, “Attaboy” to your teammates.
5. Gentlemen, dwell on these things to develop an excellence mindset that will naturally lead to excellent performance.
6. I wrapped up the chapel by having everyone to stand, taking the hands of those around their tables, and we prayed the Lord’s Prayer together.
This simple, brief, and direct chapel talk is emblematic of how I approach this grand privilege. I aim to inspire and to motivate, both. I want our coaches and players to love God with their whole hearts, and to play great football, both. My commitment to Christ demands that I speak from scripture. My commitment to the team demands that I speak directly and clearly. My commitment to the head coach demands that I speak briefly. For twenty-five years, now I have sought to fulfill all the demands and to both inspire and motivate.