Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Don't quit

I love the story of the high school basketball coach who was attempting to motivate his players to persevere through a difficult seaon. Halfway through the season he stood before his team and said, "Did Michael Jordan ever quit?" The team responded, "No!" He yelled, "What about the Wright brothers? Did they ever give up?" "No!" the team resounded. "Does Kobe Bryant ever quit?" Again the team yelled, "No!" "Did Elmer McAllister ever quit?" There was a long silence. Finally one player was bold enough to ask, "Who's Elmer McAllister? We never heard of him." The coach snapped back, "Of course you never heard of him - he quit!"

The world we live in has its share of problems. We are in need of good people fighting the good fight. We need strong leadership. Leadership with a vision. Principled leadership. And we need people who won't quit.

Some people think that leadership is all about the 'rhetoric'. Speak loudly and boldly enough and people will follow, change will occur. I'm all for good peope speaking up but I'm reminded of something Mark Twain once said that "few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example." In other words step up. Run the good race. Stay in it to the end. Don't quit. "Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words." (St. Francis)

I've always loved the Book of James. Practical. Earthy. It tells us to open our eyes. It demands that we walk our talk. It reminds us that talk is cheap. It challenges our thinking. James reminds us that living faithfully is a costly proposition.

I think it's true that we don't hold people in high regard who are all talk and no action. The people I remember fondly are those who live life fully, who don't quit, who have their eye on the prize, and who will run the race set out for them well. They inspire me to do the same.

It's easy to quit. It's easy to mouth off. That's not where the action is nor the lasting impact.

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