Leadership #12, Adversity is Your Asset - Bottom of the Ninth #150


Bottom of the 9th - Adversity is Your Asset

"Adversity is Your Asset" John Wooden's Leadership Lesson #12 by Keith Wahl

John Wooden wrote 12 Leadership Lessons that enhance our understandings of leadership and success. These 12 lessons will be the focus of Bottom of the Ninth for 12 weeks.

Have you ever hated the Apostle Paul? Obviously I don't mean "hate" in a literal sense, but in that hyperbolic sense an author will choose to use at times. Read through 2 Corinthians 11:16-33:

I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

So here's Paul - beaten, jailed, forced into hardship for the sake of Christ. Does he pray for protection? No. He boasts in his weakness. He revels in adversity. I've grown so weary of our players praying for protection when I know adversity is a place where real growth happens. How can I help young men seek to be more like Paul? I suppose it needs to start with us as coaches, teachers, and parents.

Oh that we would all could gain Paul's perspective on adversity! I'm using the "royal 'we'" here because I include myself in that. I need more of Paul's perspective on trial and difficulty. I need more of the odd, dark humor as Paul writes, "I am talking like a madman." Can you hear him giggling to himself as he writes that? I wish I could find so much humor in the midst of difficulty!

Believe me, I'm not there yet. I struggle when adversity and criticism are thrown in my face. But I'm growing. I'm learning how even the harshest critics, even those who share things that I see as lacking a perspective of truth initially, offer an opportunity for me to transform. It's not about them, it's about my own perspective on adversity. Like Paul, I'm trying to take all adversity and use it as a personal asset.

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