I heard of an athlete once. This athlete got it in his head that he wanted to become someone great. So he went out and found himself a coach. On the first day of training the athlete rolled into the gym a few minutes late. The coach smiled and shrugged it off with a laugh and a pat on the back.
“Now to work!” he said. They started with jumping jacks. The athlete was in worse shape than he thought, and was soon red and puffing.
“How many more of these?” He gasped.
“Oh, uh…just five.” The coach said nervously, and cut the warm-up shorter than he planned. “Ok good.” The athlete said smiling, and shaking out his arms and legs. Then pushups. “20…21…22…” The athlete started to groan profusely and his pace slowed. The groans grew louder. The coach glanced up in pity…”..23…ok good!”
The athlete dropped and rolled over on his back.
“Ok now squats!” The coach said, faking a little extra energy in his tone. The athlete lay there, taking as long as he wanted to rest, then finally climbed to his feet.
“And…1…2…” the coach started to count “Oh you might want to sink a little deeper into those….squats…maybe…” the athlete did a couple deeper squats then started to wince and sigh and returned to his previous form. “Ok great! Now for some techniques…”
“Woa coach…I’m beat. Maybe we can focus on that tomorrow?”
“Oh yeah! Sure sure! Whatever feels right to you, you got it man!”
“Great!” The athlete gave his coach a thumbs up, and headed for the door.
Even if you aren’t active in the world of sports you can probably see how ridiculous this scenario is. It’s laughable…and to me, even a bit revolting. This “athlete” is a fool if he thinks he’s going to gain any sort of excellence in his field, and the coach is a fool if he thinks he’s helping the athlete reach his goals by giving in any moment the athlete puts up some resistance.
It’s easy for me to see that if I were in his place, and I wanted to achieve excellence, I’d have to trust someone to lead me who had more experience and more knowledge than I did. I would choose a coach who had been around awhile with a proven track record. Someone who would push me past my self-decided limits. Someone who not only cared about me as an athlete, but as a person, as a whole…so I could trust his motives. I better darn make a wise, calculated decision on who that would be…and then just let go.
From here on out my methods must die. His must rule. I must trust him more than I trust myself. More than I trust my body’s screams when he tells me to give one more pull-up. More than I trust my understanding when he has me do an exercise that seems pointless and “cruel.” I must surrender all my ideas and limits over to him if I really want to reach my goal. If I’m driving towards greatness I don’t have time to second-guess the one who’s leading me or to stop every five minutes and question his methods and motives. He doesn’t have time to stop and explain the reason behind every single exercise!
Ok the truth is I didn’t really hear about that oblivious athlete I started off with. I saw this story play out in my imagination earlier today. And true to His character God quickly gave me the meaning behind it. This scenario was my misguided perspective of how God should train me. I tell Him I want to be excellent, fearless; to have unshakeable character, and a fierceness that will drive me to live a never-seen-before life in this breath of time He’s given me. Yet when challenges and “training” comes, my mind is instantly swayed. I look at God like, “Come on man! One more challenge? Can’t you see I can’t it take anymore!?” Or, “How long is this gonna last? Aren’t I a superstar yet?” Or “I don’t see the point of this one…let’s go back to the training I understand.” Really? I wouldn’t dare say those things to a coach! I would be downright embarrassed!
How easily I separate the principles in my physical life from those in my spiritual life. I put so much time and discipline into my body and my art…but when it comes to my character (who I really AM…not just what I do or what I make) I expect God to go easier on me than I’d expect my coach to be!? GAH! The insanity! My God has a track record for creating heroes, and He’s proved Himself faithful in my life over and over and over. All those times I threw fits and shook my fist “why? Do you hate me!?” Further down the road I find myself stronger and brighter than ever and looking into His eyes sheepishly like, “Ooooh…that’s why.” It never fails. Just when I get impatient and start to point out a disappointment, He smiles back without even looking where I’m pointing and says, “What disappointment? I’m not done yet.”
Beautiful people don’t happen by accident. I’ve always said I’d rather BE something good than HAVE something good. Being is always…possessions and pursuits come and go. But am I willing to trust my Leader, accept the training, and put in the work to become who I want to be? 10,000 hours to mastery they say. God knows how far I have to go…but yeah, I’m all about it.