Trips to Florida, Arizona and Florida again have made up part of my ministry work in January and February. (I know, I know – my mother and father don’t think it is always work either.)
Air travel is not what it was many years ago and I hope they will still ban cell phone calls in flight, but I do enjoy the opportunity to read on long airplane trips.
One of my most recent reads was Wooden: A Coach’s Life by Seth Davis. This biography is about Coach John Wooden who coached the U.C.L.A. Basketball Bruins to ten N.C.A.A. Championships, including seven in a row. This amount of championships or consecutive number of championships will probably never be equaled. Coach Wooden coached such basketball greats as Lewis Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton. In addition, U.C.L.A. once won 88 games in a row!
Coach Wooden was a Christian, and he was a person who lived out his life and his testimony through actions more than words. John Wooden coached his last game in 1975, but you will still find books in print about him or from him. Why? Because the legacy of his life and lessons he taught still resonated with his players long after the basketball games they played. John Wooden specifically noted that he saw himself first and foremost as a teacher.
Here are just a couple of phrases or lessons from John Wooden:
“Be quick, but do not hurry.”
“All change isn’t progress, but there is no progress without change.”
There were many other lessons that were shared, but his players did not always listen. Why?
Seth Davis writes:
“In his own mind, his own heart, Wooden loved ‘his boys’, but he had grown up in an environment where love was to be demonstrated, not spoken; felt, not expressed. Now, he was dealing with young men who had grown up in a much different time and place. They had emotional needs he did not, or would not, understand.” (p. 168)
I know many families where these words would summarize the relationships between many parents and their children.
The biography notes the reconciliation that occurred many times for Coach Wooden and his former players when he simply said – “I’m sorry.” “Please forgive me.” “I love you.”
It has been said often, but it bears repeating: People don’t care how much you know, unless they know how much you care.
In some way, we all are teachers for others. We are examples or witnesses or encouragers or models and those are aspects of being a teacher.
What are you hoping to teach? I read this story of a teacher and ask myself – “do my words and actions match my hopes and intentions?” The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no.
In the case of John Wooden, we have an example of the power of words and actions. John Wooden last coached a game for U.C.L.A. when he was 65 years old, but he lived to almost 100 years old and was still “teaching.”
May God find us faithful to our callings and His teachings!