The following column is an opinion piece and reflects the views of only the author and not those of The Georgia Virtue.
By: Dr. William F. Holland Jr., minister, chaplain, and author of the column series ‘Living on Purpose’. You can read more about the Christian life and see other works by Dr. Holland at billyhollandministries.com.
Over a 12-year span at UCLA, American college basketball coach John Wooden won ten National Championships and their total of 11 remains a record today. Wooden is regarded as one of the most successful coaches in sports history, and more importantly an even greater person. He was a man of integrity and character and was highly respected on and off the court. He believed in discipline and felt strongly about teamwork and demonstrating appreciation for those around him. This attitude of being outwardly gracious became the foundation of his coaching philosophy and played a huge part in his team’s accomplishments.
Wooden taught that each time a player scored, they were to congratulate whoever helped make the play. At first, this seemed sissy and awkward to the arrogant players, but the coach explained that even the slightest gesture of recognition would encourage the individual and create a stronger unity within the entire team. This awareness is now openly seen in every sport with high-fives and the various gestures of open acknowledgment. This reminds us of how powerful our attitude can be as it has the potential to motivate or deflate those around us. Inspiring words can build self-esteem, confidence, and hope but they only have a chance to be effective when they are released. Imagine what a difference we could make by simply developing a determination to show our gratitude and be an inspiration to everyone we meet.
I once heard a story about a man who dreamed he was in a beautiful palace and was escorted into a huge and elegant dining room. The man noticed an enormous round table with bowls of delicious food in the middle and sitting around the table were people who were holding spoons that were three feet long. These individuals looked like skeletons and were starving. The spoons were long enough to reach the food but too long to put the food in their mouths. In anger and frustration, they kept trying desperately to feed themselves and it was truly a pitiful sight. Then, he was taken to another dining room where saw a similar table and likewise the mouth-watering bowls of food in the center. These people also were using the extremely long spoons except, they were all glowing with health and vitality. The room was filled with light and laughter and everyone was having such a wonderful time and then he noticed the difference. With joy and compassion, they were using the spoons to feed one another.
May we always be kind and remember that everyone we meet is fighting a battle. As we choose to speak hope to the disheartened and offer a helping hand to those who are struggling, we can bring comfort to those who feel discouraged. Relaying a kind word is easy, yet to someone who could use a pick-me-up, these small acts of empathy can make a huge difference. It would be wonderful to relay to our family and friends, and especially our spouse how grateful we are for them. As a light in this world, we have the opportunity to develop a habit of recognizing the contributions of those around us and express how proud we are of their accomplishments if we desire. Fred Van Amburgh is quoted as saying, “None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” Every day we decide to listen to God’s voice and obey His instructions or ignore Him and live selfishly. Only our attitude is preventing us from being respectful, appreciative, encouraging, and generous. The choice is ours.
You have unlimited potential. God has drawn an amazing blueprint for your future and longs to help you succeed. You are unique, a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that He adores more than anything in the universe. He is aware of your situation and is working behind the scenes on your behalf. Jesus not only said He loved you, but He also suffered and died on the cross to prove it! You were created and called to bring hope into the world and as you reach out to help others, this gives Him honor and glory. We show our gratitude to the Lord when we worship and praise Him. We show how much we love Him with our obedience. Never give up on your dreams, and be encouraged to know that since God is for you – who can be against you?