Bottom of the 9th - Skill
Skill - Block 11, John Wooden's Pyramid of Success by Keith Wahl
I love that Skill sits at the heart of Wooden's Pyramid of Success. Just like in the human body, there are appendages below and to the side of the heart, and a head above the heart. But, take the heart of Skill away from the Pyramid or a person, and you have an empty competitor.
Skill can be simply defined as the expertise or ability to do something well. A challenge exists in separating two things we value equally in competitive sports - Skill and Talent. Separating the two is important because we can work on Skill and Skill can add to one's Talent. Talent is given by God. No matter what I did as a 6-foot, 4-inch white male with thick legs, I was never going to possess the talent necessary to be fleet of foot (a.k.a. - fast).
Jay Carty experienced much in the world of basketball (played for the L.A. Lakers, coached at Oregon State, and with John Wooden at UCLA). But it was in ministry where he found his true calling as a preacher and author. In the book he co-wrote with Coach Wooden, Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success Playbook, Carty says this about Skill:
"Our potential for excellence lies in our undeveloped areas of skill - what I call our God-given hard wiring, or knack. The primary word for wisdom in the Bible best translates to "know your knack." God gives us potential to be skillful. It is our job to discover our potential (the beginning of wisdom) and develop our talent to our A+ level of competency (wisdom and success). People who are biblically wise know their God-given wiring and go forward in developing their skills. I believe the Bible teaches that each of us has been given the potential to make a significant contribution to God's kingdom."
Andrew McCutchen and Clayton Kershaw are two examples of baseball players who have taken their knack for playing the game of baseball and developed their competency in such a way that they can make a contribution to God's kingdom. Both men openly share their faith in Christ from the platform of playing Major League Baseball.
But here is where things get interesting. How many young men playing the game of baseball (and young women in other sports) truly have the knack to display the kind of competency possessed by McCutchen and Kershaw? The culture tells us to feed the dreams of young men and encourage them at every step along the way. Is our culture doing harm and drawing young men away from the Lord? Possibly.
Don't get me wrong - I love sports and all of the young athletes who play them. At the same time, I believe too many coaches want to uncover that one player they will coach in their life who has the knack described by Carty above, while far too many parents believe that their child has that knack. True joy, as Carty explains above, comes from discovering our potential and develop our talent. In between times on the field, court, ice, course, or wherever sports take place this week, may each of us seek to find a knack outside of sports. Explore that knack deeper over time. You never know what God might do with it.
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