[This was submitted as a letter to the editor of the Jackson County Pilot. Along with me 4 other pastors and one lay person signed onto this letter.]
What makes a person great?
In a world where many people wear blinders this question is answered in very narrow terms. For many, greatness is limited to job performance or on the field/court performance (athletic success). If a person brings in a lot of business, makes a lot of money, wins a lot of games, sells a lot of tickets, puts a lot of butts in the stands, etc, then greatness is measured using those factors. But I would argue that greatness can not be limited to those narrow confines; rather character HAS to play into the equation. I say that because character is something that goes with you where ever you go and carries over into everything you do. Character is what people will remember in the long run.
Recently, here in Jackson, a great volleyball coach died. Carolyn coached for many years and was respected by many people: student athletes, parents, fans, and other coaches and players. She is remembered and respected not just because of the results she brought to the teams she coached (a couple state titles and numerous conference and sub-section titles) but what she taught her players. In a recent story in the newspaper it (of course) talked about her statistics a little bit, but the majority of the story was about what she left behind for her girls. Carolyn was a tough coach and very demanding, but she was respectful and kind. In the newspaper story many of her former players talked about what she taught them and even called Carolyn their second mom. What a compliment and testimony to her character. A “great” coach does not need to swear and berate their players. A “great” coach sets an example for their players and holds them accountable for their actions on AND off the field/court. Carolyn did that and that is why she will be remembered as a “great” coach.
I watch stories on ESPN talk about “great” players but then in the next breath it is mentioned that they got arrested for drunk driving or domestic abuse or drug use. To me that player may be very talented athletically, but they are not a “great” player. Character has to be taken into consideration because character carries over to EVERY aspect of ones life. The professional athletes that I most respect are the ones who stay out of trouble, give back to their communities, are not overly cocky, don’t break the rules (i.e. steroids) and are just plain respectful of the sport and other people. That is a testament to their character. Whether they produce on the field/court or not I cheer for those athletes and wish them the best.
As a society we need to demand better. We need to expect “greatness” in EVERY aspect of ones life. We need to demand more from our coaches and athletes. And…as a society…we need to expect more from ourselves. We need to be mindful of our character. Job performance or athletic success is temporary, but character is forever. If we don’t teach our kids today that character is important; if we don’t teach our kids to be respectful of authority, I worry about the future.
Take a stand and expect “greatness”…in the FULL sense of the word.