“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive an inheritance as your reward.”
– Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)
It’s been seven years since Alzheimer’s took the life of Coach Pat Summitt. Who can forget the icy, blue-eyed stare that could penetrate your very soul? For thirty-eight years she held the reigns of the Tennessee Lady Vols. As a twenty-two year old graduate assistant, Summitt was given the job after the previous coach suddenly quit. Her teams led the way in spring-boarding women’s college basketball to unprecedented popularity. Her legacy includes 1,098 wins and eight national championships. That is a high level of worldly success. But what many people don’t realize is that Pat Summitt was a woman who built her life’s success around her love for Jesus Christ. Her son Tyler had this to say about his mother, “For sixty-four years my mother first built her life upon a strong relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Her foundation was also built upon love for her family, her players and love for the fundamentals of hard work, which reflected her philosophy that you win in life with people.” Those are values that make an eternal difference. Candace Parker who played for Summitt from 2004-2008 talks about her passion, humility and living her advice, not just giving it. “She was always there for me in good times and bad”, says Parker.
Pat Summitt is quoted as saying, “God gave me work to do!” The concept of hard work has taken a beating in recent years. We often forget that achievement takes time as well as paying attention to the small things. Most athletes and coaches want to win, but few are willing to make the commitment and sacrifice required to achieve success. Overnight success is a lie in sports and well as in our Christian walk. The successful athlete and the faithful Christian are willing to do the ordinary and seemingly insignificant tasks that are necessary for athletic and spiritual growth. Eating right, strength conditioning and individual workouts help athletes earn playing time. Bible study, verse memorization, service to others and prayer help Christians mature in their faith. Perspective is also very important. God has given us all work to do. How we do it makes a difference. The Apostle Paul calls for us to work “heartily”, with passion and for God’s glory. This is far greater than making ESPN’s Top Ten highlight list. Personal glory will fade and be forgotten in time. The work we do for God’s glory will last for eternity.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the work You have given me today. Give me a heart to do everything for Your glory rather than personal gain. Help me to love and serve those You have placed in my care. In Jesus’ name, Amen.