Created for Greatnessby Jamie Donne
Maybe it’s the upcoming Olympics or the lingering buzz from the Cleveland Cavs vs. Golden State Warriors championship, but I have athletics on the brain. I’ve heard many (often appropriate) critiques from Christians regarding the role of sports. Certainly we can inappropriately idolize sports heroes and over value the place of competition in the lives of youth.
This week, though, I’m thinking about all the ways that they can point us to Kingdom realities and encourage us in our own vocations. There’s something about the athletic realm that gives us an amplified picture of what’s possible in our own lives.
Created for Greatness
The Olympics give perhaps the clearest picture of someone living out greatness. Even Paul the Apostle used the image of an athlete to call people to their fullest potential. When you watch an Olympic gymnast or see the splashless entry off the high dive, it often feels like watching someone do the very thing they were created for. I can still remember watching along with the Magnificent Seven, now celebrating a 20 year anniversary, as they faced adversity and continued to pursue excellence. The country rallied around the team and deeply wanted them to succeed.
Greatness inspires and it resets the bar for what’s possible. For generations it was impossible to run a four minute mile. As soon as the milestone occurred, several people achieved it. It’s a spiritual law set into the earth that when breakthrough comes, it releases something fresh into the earth and makes it possible for all of us.
Maybe you won’t stand on the platform at the end of your day of computer coding, but the principles hold true. We are constantly choosing to raise the bar or settle in every vocation. Our eyes are lifted and the definition of what’s possible shifts every time we hear about a technological breakthrough, a new counseling technique that releases healing, unprecedented growth in sales, healings of “incurable” diseases, or a neighborhood renamed and given fresh life. Will we dream for something bigger? Will we be people who see others walking in their calling and celebrate their greatness?
Made for Community
On June 28, one of the greatest women’s basketball coaches in history, Pat Summitt, died from the effects of early onset Alzheimer’s. If you followed her career at all, her death was striking and was the loss of a true hero. The days following her death included an outpouring of stories about the way her coaching impacted players’ lives beyond the court. In fact, Pat became a coach before women’s basketball was fully recognized as a sport and her dedication laid the foundation for many young women. For decades, she drew out the best in players and helped them believe that they were capable of more.
Geno Auriemma, coach of the lady UConn Huskies and women’s US Olympic team, is known for recruiting the best players to his school. He takes good players and draws out the greatness in them. His teams have been accused of ruining the game of women’s basketball because they’re “too good,” because together they’re creating an atmosphere of accelerated growth and excellence.
We were never meant to do life on our own. We call out the best in each other and find ourselves living into it more and more as a result. Together we can believe there’s something better waiting on the other side of our perseverance. What if there’s greatness in your coworker that can only come forth with your help? There are children, in your homes and in our community, who will become the best versions of themselves with your impact. Encouragement adds courage and there are moments where we all need the courage to live into our callings. When we see a teacher pouring into his students and know that he is walking in exactly what God made him to do, let’s be people who call out that truth. Remind your favorite entrepreneur that she is creatively imaging the Creator and add boldness to her this week. This week, add courage to another to help them walk in greatness.
A Bigger Story
When LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavs to the NBA championship last month, it was the first championship for the city in 52 years. An ESPN article after their win said, “It took a native son to break the cycle of disappointment.” An entire city breathed in fresh hope and had the invitation to renew their ideas of what’s possible. The phrase, “just a kid from Akron,” became popular as young people no longer had limitations based on their neighborhoods. LeBron himself said when he returned to Cleveland that his relationship to the city was bigger than basketball. Again, we don’t all have a city wearing our tshirts, but all of us have vocations that point to a bigger story. All of us have the invitation and privilege to help break cycles of disappointment around us. It takes native sons and daughters rising up in their identity to release the glory that creation longs for.
We all point to the bigger story. Our very lives tell of the grace that brought us out of darkness and into marvelous light. The relationship with our callings is always bigger than the job itself. We release the creativity, freedom, and excellencies of Christ each day.