I’ve never understood people with great talent or ability just kind of cruising through life with no desire to fully develop and reach their potental. Throughout my life I have witnessed countless gifted students, athletes, and believers opt for mediocrity simply because they lacked the deisre and discipline to be coached to greatness.
Jim was in my high school graduating class. His highest priority was not in learning (unless it was to learn who had the best smoke). So a young man who scored a 34 on his ACT graduated with one of the worst GPA’s.
Danny was the most talented swimmer I had trained with on my swim team. His technique was both perfect and beautiful. But he lacked the desire and focus to become a champion. On one occcasion at a meet in Belleville, IL, Danny was playing pool while the gun went off for his swimmng race. I will never forget Danny running upstairs to the pool and jumping in a half a lap back from the field. He still managed to overtake everyone to win the race.
George (not his name) was an anointed and gifted servant of God called and equipped by God to perfom one of the most important roles in the body of Christ – serving as a true armour bearer for God’s generals. One internationally known minister once told me that in all his travels no one had ever taken better care of him than George. But he made some bad choices and lost his desire to be mentored to greatness.
Contrast these stories with my friend and competitor Tom from my age group swimming days. Bob Steele, the head men’s swim coach at SIU Carbondale at the time, used to tell us there were three factors in succeeding as a swimmer: raw talent, hard work, and a good attitude. He said that you needed at least two to succeed but three would be unstoppable. Tom always had talent and a great attitude but early on he showed no interest in working hard. But one day a coach and mentor came across his path and encouraged him to train with the Parkway Swim Club in St Louis and at the University of Iowa swim camp in the summer. Combined with his new work ethic and the world class coaching, Tom became an Olympic Gold Medalist and World Record Holder.
I see Tim Tebow’s situation (and that of so many Christians) in the same light. Tim proved his ability, hard work, and attitude leading his college team to national championships. Despite his success there and gritty backup play as quarterback for the Denver Broncos leading them to a playoff victory over Pittsburg, Tebow was traded to an inept Jets team that failed to appreciate, use, or develop this godly and talented young man.
As corny as it sounds, I actually prayed for Tebow to be picked up by some NFL team that has both the insight to see the potential and the skill to develop it. Yesterday the New England Patriots announced intentions to sign Tebow. Most people forget that the Patriot’s celebrated QB Tom Brady couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a throw in the beginning of his career. But Patriot’s head coach Bill Belichick remembers and yet took a talented Brady and developed him into one of the all time greats. Sportswriter Tyler Raburn said of Belichick, “He took Brady from the sixth-round prospect he was and made him into the superstar he is today.” Something tells me that Belichick, with an eye to the future, is ready (and unlike the Broncos and Jets) and able to do that again with the young Tebow.
Like Tebow, I believe as Christians we all have great potential but we must have two indispensable factors working in our lives. First, we must desire to be developed and mentored. Most believers live and die never accomplishing much, not because they lack ability – they simply lack the heart. Second, we must submit ourselves not simply to a coach but to a coach that has the experience and ability to wisely mentor, instruct, push, correct, and develop us.
Don’t settle for being like a Jim, Danny, or George. Like Tom and like Tim, see and seize (don’t squander) your “Tebowtunity” when it comes your way. I fully expect Tim Tebow to flourish with the Patriots. Like Tebow, with the desire and proper developmental coaching, I expect you too will flourish and become a champion for Jesus.