Lovelady Lions, you wrapped up an incredible season last night! You ended the Football season 14-1 as State semi-finalists, going further than any other team in Lovelady Football history. You displayed outstanding character and played with integrity at every battle. Coaches and players, you represented our community in a way that makes every Lion proud. Your success is etched in our history books forever, with “Lovelady Lion Day” being set on Dec. 11, for all future generations to remember and celebrate. As you reflect on the season and begin to move forward from here, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on “What’s Next.”
- Celebrate the way you’ve won as much as the fact that you’ve won. As much as I love football, it only lasts a season, and life does not slow down for it or after it. The integrity with which you’ve competed this year is impeccable. You learned to work together as a team… to never give up… to trust your coaches… to respect your opponents… to honor your families and your community. That kind of “win” can translate into every area of you life, if you’ll let it. Academically, study and learn with integrity. Socially, interact and fellowship with integrity. In your future places of employment, work and contribute with integrity. Though it may seem to be true right now, football is not life. But it is chock-full of life-lessons. Because you’ve played with integrity this year, let those lessons cross over to every other discipline in your life. Celebrate the way you’ve won as much as the fact that you’ve won.
- Allow this to be a “defining moment,” but do not let this moment define you. I know that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at first glance. Let the moments of success define your high school football career. Let them define your 2015 sports season. But do not let them define you. My prayer is that you use this success as a launching pad, not a reclining chair. There are so many exciting life adventures that are just around the corner for you. Make new memories. Work hard and celebrate new seasons of success. Don’t be that guy who always lives in the past. Be the one who uses the past as a springboard toward a brighter future. In the words of our most famous 20th Century philosopher, Dr. Seuss, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go . . . Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.”
- Give thanks where thanksgiving is due. Whether it’s sports, academics, band, or career, you are who you are on the shoulders of those who have come before you. Who are the people in your life who have invested in you over the years to mold you and shape you into the person you are today? Find them. Thank them.
- Pursue the Lord with as much vigor and integrity as you pursued this football season. One of my favorite Scripture quotes to put on ABC’s Lovelady sports advertisements is Hosea 11:10. It reads, “They will go after the Lord. He will roar like a lion.” Can you imagine if you pursued a right relationship with God with the same passion that you pursued the win this season? What if, in church, you learned to “work together as a team… to never give up… to trust your coaches… to respect your opponents… to honor your families and your community?” To allow God’s “roar” to be louder than yours at all times? As a pastor, I can say with full assurance that this would change the climate of our community, and possibly, the whole world. God didn’t establish football, band, cheerleading, or schools to be the herald of His saving grace to the ends of the earth. He created and established His Church. If you were to take the passion and integrity with which you’ve pursued this football season, and apply it directly to your walk with Christ, teenagers, you would flip the world upside-down.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
2015 Lovelady Lion Football Team and Coaching Staff, I am (we are all) so very proud of you. You left your imprint on Lovelady history. Now… leave your mark on the world. And make it big.
Grace and Peace,