A Secret to Success On the Court and In Life

Butler University Bulldogs men's basketball team

I have so much hope and expectation for the fall 2012 line of Abingdon leadership books I acquired as part of my job as senior leadership editor. Each book has much to say to the church and to anyone interested in God’s leadership working through us as followers.

One of my favorites is Lead Like Butler: Six Principles for Values-Based Leaders. This amazing little book captures the soul of the success of the ultimate Cinderella story, the Butler University Bulldog basketball team. The book is chock full of amazing nuggets like this excerpt on passion:

Some Pharisees once came to Jesus and asked him when the Kingdom or Power of God was going to be revealed.  Jesus answered by saying that “the kingdom (power) of God is not coming with things than can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ In fact, the kingdom (power) of God is within you.”  (Luke 17:20-21)

While other religious leaders looked for God’s power and presence in outward signs, Jesus told them to look for the power and presence of God within themselves.  It is as if God has created each person with God’s passion and power within them. In a similar way, we are told in the first creation story in Genesis that “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) Jesus tells us that the power of God is within us and God tells us in Genesis that we are all created in the image of God.   This means that God’s power, spirit and image dwell in the hearts of every human being.   The reflection of God within us is the source of our God-given passion and energy to make a positive difference in our lives and in our world.

A goal of life is to discover our God-given passion or enthusiasm, fan it into flame, and allow God to set our hearts on fire with a passion to enlighten and inspire all those around us. The Greek roots of the word “enthusiasm” are “en” and “theos” which means “in God” or “God in us.”  When someone is enthusiastic or passionate they have discovered the energetic power of God within them, motivating them to make a positive difference in the world.  God is literally in them.

Purpose, or vision, is the steering wheel, pointing the car in the right direction.  But passion is the engine that makes it go. A vehicle functions best when the engine is running well and providing the energy needed to move forward and the steering wheel is pointed in the direction of the destination. If we have passion without vision it is like a car with an engine but no steering wheel.  We may generate a lot of energy but just go around in circles because we have no clear sense of direction.  If we have a steering wheel but no engine, we will be pointed in the right direction but we won’t ever get there because we have no power or energy to move us forward.

When a person has not only a strong sense of purpose but also a heartfelt passion, not only do they reach their goal reached, but they set everyone around them on fire in the process.

Coach Stevens recruits players who have a commitment to play basketball with passion, enthusiasm and excellence.  He said one of the ways he can tell when a player has a passion for basketball is by how he responds to a loss.  After the game is over, when everyone else is gone, Coach Stevens often sees a player go back on the court to practice his shots and moves.  When the coach sees that kind of response to a loss, he knows he has a player who has passion and commitment for the game and is on fire to improve himself as a basketball player.

Pre-order this book today and tell your friends. It comes out this fall, just in time for the new basketball season.

About the Author

Len Wilson

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Christ follower. Storyteller. Strategist. Writer. Creative Director at St Andrew. Tickle monster. Author, Think Like a Five Year Old (Abingdon).