Feb 7, 2005
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend, 

      Well, that's over. The first big religious festival of the 2005 liturgical calendar is now history; Super Bowl Sunday XXXIX passed without so much as a hiccup.

      No "equipment malfunctions" to put the networks in a sudden-death payoff. No disputed calls - or callbacks - that will cause fans to treat football's biggest contest the way they now treat politics' biggest contest, arguing the legitimacy of the outcomes. Boston over Philadelphia; done. Pats rule - again - for '05.

      Neither team went in with any overwhelming odds. The athletes were spread on both sides of the line of scrimmage. It lacked the "rout" feeling of the Orange Bowl; just a real-close match (mostly), that lacked the end-of-the-game cliffhanger excitement that puts the family room fans on their feet.

      In the big-stakes contest, the final score isn't near as clear. Water coolers across America were, no doubt, debating the question as Monday morning opinions meshed. For me, FedEx won the coveted Super Bowl Advertising Olympics. Burt Reynolds (an unknown to the under-35 crowd, but a poster kid for aging Boomers who still remember Smokey) and the dancing bear hit the Top-10 things necessary to have the best Super Bowl ad ... and left all of America wondering: is he also fronting for the Hair Club for Men? Really good hairline, Burtster; much better than some of your earlier faux follicle attempts.

      Bottom line: I think the game came down to strategic coaching. No huge superiority; just the small extra-edge that put the Pat's on top.

      Life is like that, too. Over and over, the New Testament writers (mostly Paul) liken a life well lived to a competition well coached. "Run in such a way as to get the prize," (I Corinthians 9:24) is one of Paul's challenges. How do you run the race of life ... strategically? Some pointers ...

Forget your past. Last night, win/loss records from the season meant nothing. New day; new contest; seize the day. Your life - to now - really means little or nothing in a world with cultural amnesia. No one cares if you were yesterday's champ ... or yesterday's chump. What are you prepared to do, today? The past? Forget about it ...

      Act your attitude. Your mom always said, "Act your age!," and that was good advice ... until you were 30. From then on, your attitude becomes essential. Young people can be incredibly mature ... and older folks can be extraordinarily vibrant. It's all in your mind, and you control your attitude. Life has its greatest opportunities in the second half of the game ... but they are most-often exploited by the person who exhibits first half freshness.

      Stoke your fire. Those guys at XXXIX were pretty well paid ... but they weren't motivated by the money. Champion performances flow from the fire in the belly, not the deposit in the account. If you're not living your passion, you're just puttin' in your time ... and the clock moves slowly. Show me a person with obvious passion for what they're doing in life, and I'll bet on their team, knowing nothing more. Passion rules ... especially when it's passion that aligns with God's.

      Get to work. Super Bowl is not a photo op; it's a sweat shop. Those guys expended more calories in an hour of play time than most men their age expend in a week at the office. Real players work; they know their own assignment and they fulfill their responsibilities to the team. Success comes to those who find their position, learn its demands ... and deliver. Work; it's noble.

      Expand your world. Some of those players hit their life's high-point yesterday; some will find a way to leverage their success into lifelong opportunity. Some names will become trivia questions within months; others will find new roles that give them even greater influence post-helmet than they had while still taping their ankles. Even "world champs" have to ask themselves: what's next?

      I have the privilege of coaching leaders ... to become Kingdom Champs. How? Live strategically; live to win ...

Bob Shank

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