What’s Your LQ – Luck Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #10)  Often in life we falsely ascribe the term luck to situations and circumstances that really are the result of preparedness, hard work, and God’s intervention.

Some people collect lucky charms.  Neither life nor luck is enhanced by rabbits’ feet, horseshoes, or four-leaf clovers.  The real truth is that luck is what happens when hard work and opportunity cross paths.  As Louis Pasteur put it, “Luck favors a prepared mind.”

A few years ago 155 people on US Airways Flight 1549 had a rare experience when the plane made an emergency landing on the Hudson River after striking a flock of geese upon takeoff.  The plane didn’t break apart and there were no fatalities.  Many people referred to it as “luck.”

It wasn’t luck!  That plane’s pilot, Captain Chesley Sullenberger, had worked hard and was prepared for such a moment.  He had a record as an excellent pilot instructor in how to react in the situation in which he found himself.  He had written manuals and had given lectures and offered training for other pilots.  On the Hudson River on that particular day, “Sully” had an opportunity to put all of that into practice.

When I am on an airplane, I don’t want a “lucky” pilot, but one who is ready for all situations.  I don’t want the plane built by “lucky” people, but experts who build with excellence.  I remember reading how the passengers on Flight 1549 said most of them were praying.  God answered their prayers.  That wasn’t luck – it was the result of the intervention of God coupled with the exceptional expertise and composure of a prepared pilot.

One of the greatest tragedies of American history occurred on April 14, 1912.  The “unsinkable” Titanic was on its maiden voyage with 2,224 people on board.  The Titanic hit a huge ice berg and began to sink.  Due to insufficient crew training, it took over an hour to deploy the 18 lifeboats.  Many of the lifeboats carried about half of their maximum capacity.  1512 people did not make it to a lifeboat and died.

Many have designated the sinking of the Titanic as “bad luck.”  It was an extremely unfortunate tragedy, but bad luck did not play a part – poor preparation did.  There were only enough lifeboats to accommodate about one-third of the ship’s capacity.  It seems plausible that the ship ought to have had enough lifeboats to accommodate everyone, but somebody didn’t prepare.

There were other things that indicated a lack of preparation for such an emergency.  A telegraph message was sent concerning the sighting of an iceberg in the ship’s path, but somehow it did not make it to the captain of the Titanic.  Also, there was poor communication with the nearest ship, the S.S. California.  “Bad luck” is more the case of poor planning, poor preparation, and poor execution.

If I want to improve my luck, I need to improve my preparation for life’s experiences and rely more on the sovereignty of God.  As one successful lawyer classified as being “lucky” wrote, “I am inclined to recall that luck usually visits me at 2:00 am on a cold morning when red-eyed and bone-weary I am pouring over law books preparing a case.  It never visits me when I am at the movies, when I am on the golf course, or when I am reclining in an easy chair.”

The antithesis of luck is faith – knowing that we have a responsibility, but God has the final say.  Proverbs 16:33 says, “We toss the coin, but it’s the Lord who controls its decisions.”

Every day, pray this prayer – “God, help me make this a victorious day based on my preparation, hard work, and complete trust in You!”

What’s your LQ  –  Luck Quotient?

What’s Your FQ – Faith Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #9)  Have you ever heard someone described as being “lucky?”  Have you ever heard a person brag about being “lucky?”  Have you ever heard of successful events in life described as just being a result of “luck?” 

I don’t believe in luck.  I think we have a choice of living by luck or living by faith.  Living by luck is determined by the immediate situation.  Living by faith looks at life not only in the present but also in the future.

The concept of luck is connected to the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.  In the 5th Century, Patrick was a missionary in Ireland.  As a teen, he had been kidnapped by Irish raiders, but while he was working as a shepherd, he was able to escape.  During that time, he found faith in the God who lives.  He returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary.   He had a tremendous witness in Ireland until he died on March 17 and was buried at Downpatrick.  He became the foremost saint from Ireland.

St. Patrick would use a three-leaf shamrock to teach about the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.  Each leaf represented a member of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  Since a four-leaf shamrock is rare, people began to describe it as bringing good luck. 

St. Patrick’s Day is more recognized today than it has been in the past.  There are huge parades in different countries.  Since St. Patrick’s Day falls during Lent, the Irish people would lift Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol for that day.  That is the reason Irish Whisky and beer were consumed heavily in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.  Cider could be substituted for Methodists and Baptists!  The idea of luck came about in this celebration.  A shamrock was placed in the bottom of the drinking glass.  When you finished the drink as a toast to St. Patrick, the shamrock could be tossed over your shoulder, which was thought to bring you good luck.

You can throw a bunch of shamrocks over your shoulder, but I do not believe it will ever bring you good luck!  Arnold Palmer once said, “The the more I practice, the luckier I get!”  Accomplishments are much more determined by preparation, practice and execution than luck.  (Tweet this)

Faith – not luck – is the way to live.  Faith is understanding that God created us and loved us.  Faith is understanding that “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Faith is “living one day at a time” (Matt. 6:34 LTB).  Trusting in God every step of the way is faith. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).

Tradition says that if you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, you might get pinched.  Wear green and avoid the pinch.  But I have some better advice to avoid the pinch in life – move forward, inch by inch, trusting more in God with every step.

Wear something green on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate the life of a great Christian missionary, evangelist and saint.  Don’t spend your time looking for a four-leaf clover or throwing a shamrock over your shoulder – spend your time thanking God for His goodness and all the good things that He brings about in your life.

I recently had a series of events occur in my life that have been extremely important.  Some people would say I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time.  I know better!  I know that God had me in the right place, and He had designated the time, and He is responsible for the outcome!

I Thess. 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always,  pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   That’s living by faith – not luck!

What is your FQ – Faith Quotient?

What’s Your WQ – Winner Quotient?

Quotient Quizes #8   People can make mistakes when announcing winners in relation to other people.   It recently happened on a global stage at the Oscars.  Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were the presenters for Best Picture.  There was a huge mix up when Beatty was given the wrong envelope.  Beatty and Dunaway misreported that “La La Land” had won the Oscar for Best Picture. 

Immediately the judges started scrambling.  “La La Land” producers were already making their acceptance speeches when they were interrupted by accountants from Price Waterhouse Coopers.  They quickly took the microphone and said a mistake had been made, and that “Moonlight” was the Best Picture winner.  A colossal mistake!  Humans make mistakes naming winners.

A similar thing happened on a global stage when comedian Steve Harvey was the MC for the Miss Universe Pageant last year.  When it came time to announce the winner, he was given the wrong card.  He crowned Miss Colombia as the winner, when it should have been Miss Philippines.

I love the reaction of Terrell Owens, the great professional football player from Alex City, Alabama when he was not selected for the National Football Hall of Fame this year.  He said he is going to look into the issue to see if maybe the winners going into the Hall of Fame were mistakenly announced and his name should have been there!

God doesn’t make mistakes!  He picks winners in life.  A lot of time people may try to tell us that we are in-competent, little, unimportant, failures, misfits, etc.  God never says that.  He created each of us just as we are.  We are precious in His sight.  We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and “His works are wonderful” (Ps. 139:14).

Where do we find our true self-identity?  The world tells us to find our self-esteem and identity in life through trying to accomplish great things or by accumulating wealth.  That is not the truth.  If you need a fancy car or expensive clothes to make a statement about yourself, you don’t have much to say!  (Tweet this)

Sometimes we try to find our identity in comparing ourselves to other people.  God did not make any of us like anybody else.  He created each of us uniquely different.  I like Tim Teebow’s statement – “We never become who God created us to be by trying to be like somebody else.”  Judy Garland said, “Always be a first-rate version of yourself  instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” 

Our true identity comes in knowing that God loved us, that He sent His Son into the world to redeem us, and He designed a perfect plan of purpose for each of us.  He announces us as winners!  We find our identity in Him.  Read Jeremiah 29:11-13.

I heard once about a boy who took an eagle’s egg and put it into the nest of a prairie chicken.  The eaglet hatched with the rest of the chicks and grew up with them.  The baby eagle thought he was a prairie chicken and did what the prairie chickens did.  He clucked and cackled with a brief flurry of his feathers to get a few feet off the ground, because that was what the chickens were doing.

Years later, the eagle was growing old.  He saw a magnificent bird soaring in the sky.  He said, “What a beautiful bird.  What is it?”  Someone chuckled, “That’s an eagle, the chief of all birds.  But don’t give it a second thought, you could never be like him.”  The sad thing is the eagle gave up the thought of being what he was created to be and died thinking he was a prairie chicken.

The Oscars and beauty pageants don’t pick the right winners.  God does.  He picks you.  Get out of the chicken pen and start flying!

What is your WQ – Winner Quotient?

What is your FQ – Focus Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #7)

One of my good friends in ministry was Dr. Bill Hinson.  We knew each other in college, and we were in seminary together at Emory.  He became the pastor of the largest Methodist Church in America at First Methodist in Houston, Texas.  I had the privilege to work with him on a lot of things for renewal in The United Methodist Church.  He retired early to North Alabama; sadly, he suffered a heart attack and died.

Bill was a great preacher.  I’ll never forget his telling about lion tamers who go into the cage with lions.  They carry a four-legged stool.  They also carry whips, poles, and pistols, but the purpose of the stool is fascinating.

The lion tamer always holds the stool by the back and points the four legs toward the face of the wild animal.  The animal tries to focus on all four legs at once.  When he does this, a kind of paralysis comes over him, and the animal becomes weak and disabled because his attention is fragmented and is unable to focus.

Too often we try to focus on too many things, and we become victims of discouragement and disappointment, and ineffective living.  A lack of focus is destructive.

One of my favorite passages is Hebrews 12:1-2.  The backdrop is an athletic event, the race.  The writer describes that the runner always runs with focus and purpose.  He says, “We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus, who is the Alpha and the Omega of our faith.” 

You never see a runner win who is multi-focused while he is running.  You don’t see him waving to people up in the crowd, or “hot-dogging.”  The runner who wins focuses on the finish line and runs straight towards it.  He  doesn’t look at his competitors!  He doesn’t get distracted.  He is focused!

One of the big differences in success and failure is how well we are able to focus.  Someone has said, “The successful man is the average man – focused.”

When a football team goes out of town for the big game, much of the planning centers on how to keep the team focused.  Play off and championship games carry with them many distractions.  The more focused a team can be, the better it will perform.  Last year a German soccer team immediately changed hotels for its training camp.  They found that a beauty contest was taking place at that resort hotel with 400 Russian models.  Smart coach!

There is a convicting Old Testament story about a guard who was looking after an enemy who had been captured.  His responsibility was to focus on keeping the prisoner secure. 

When his leader came to check on him, they discovered the prisoner had escaped.  The leader wondered how that could happen.  Was the guard overpowered by the prisoner, or did some colleagues come and help the man escape?  He asked the guard to explain.  His explanation was, “While I was busy here and there, the prisoner escaped” (1 Kings 20:39-40).  The guard had not stayed focused on his duty!

Stay focused on your purpose.  A huge traffic jam recently occurred in Alabama where a truck driver took his hands off the wheel to pull out a loose tooth.  He crashed his 18-wheeler along Interstate 20.  While he grabbed hold of the troublesome tooth, he lost control, jack-knifed and veered off the road.  He forgot about driving and focused on pulling his tooth.  The highway patrol verified his dilemma when he said, “He had the tooth in his shirt pocket as proof!”  But that did not untangle the traffic jam or fix his truck.

Remember, a lack of focus can paralyze you.  Stay focused!

What is your FQ – Focus Quotient?

What’s your GQ – Growth Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #6)  Growth is essential in life.  Growth involves knowing how to handle success and failure because success or failure can either negate or fuel growth

We sometimes get into a situation where we think that we can’t go forward.  When this happens, it’s a good idea to stop and see if we are facing in the wrong direction!  Remember, God judges a man not by the point he has reached but by the way he is facing.  God doesn’t judge by distance but by direction.

Growth requires taking a risk in the forward direction.  Someone has said you can approach life in two ways – protect it or pursue it.  When the voice of safety says, “Build a fire in the hearth and stay in where it is warm,” the voice of growth says, “Build a fire in your soul, then go out and pursue your vision with a passion.”  (Tweet this)

C.S. Lewis wrote, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird – it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And we cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad.”  Life really has two options – grow or die.  What is your GQ?

A man went back to his alma mater for his 50th anniversary of his graduation.  He had accomplished many things in his life as a physician.  He served as a surgeon in a large hospital, he was decorated as a military hero in World War II, and he was an accomplished bicyclist, a devoted husband, father and grandfather. When he went to his school, the old graduate was interviewed by a student reporter who asked, “What is the most important thing you learned in college?”  Without hesitation, he replied, “How to go on learning for the rest of my life.”

Life is a process of learning and growing.  Oliver Wendell Holmes was studying Greek at age 94.  When somebody asked him why he was studying Greek at that age, he replied, “My good sir, it’s now or never!”  I heard a good friend often say, “What matters most is not the years in your life – but the life in your years.”  (Tweet this)

The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lived out this concept.  When he was way up in years, his hair was white as snow.  A friend asked him how he sustained his vigor and zest for life.  This person wanted to know how he could keep on writing so beautifully.

Longfellow pointed to a blossom on an apple tree and said, “That tree is very old, but I never saw prettier blossoms on it than those which it now bears.  That tree grows new wood each year.  Like that apple tree, I try to grow a little new wood each year.”

How much new wood are you growing this year?

The Bible says, “We grow in the grace and knowledge of God’s plan for our lives” (2 Pet. 3:18).  “We are to grow up into Him” (Eph. 4:15).  “You are living a brand new kind of life that is continually learning more and more of what is right, and trying constantly to be more and more like Christ who created this new life within you” (Col. 3:10).

I believe God tells us like He told Israel – “Clear lots of ground for your tents!  Make your tents large.  Spread out!  Think big!  Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep.  You’re going to need lots of elbow room . . . Don’t be afraid – you’re not going to be embarrassed.  Don’t hold back – you’re not going to come up short” (Isaiah 54:2-3 MSG).  Don’t get discouraged when you don’t have immediate growth in every situation.  Growth isn’t always consistent, but it must be evident in measurable increments.

What is your GQ – Growth Quotient?

What’s Your QQ – Quit Quotient?

(Quotient Quizes #5) One of the most incredible sports stories occurred 30 years ago in the state of Alabama at Troy University.   This 30-year anniversary will be celebrated at Troy by the young men and their families who participated on the 1987 championship baseball team.  Let me tell you about Warren Arrington, a young man who played a significant part in making that championship possible.

In the 1980’s, I went each week to Jeff Davis High School here in Montgomery to meet with different athletic teams and speak to them.  It was a rich experience for me.  For about 10 years I witnessed some state championships. 

One of those outstanding athletes was a football and baseball player named Warren Arrington.  He had great athletic skill and a great attitude about life.  Warren went to Troy University on a baseball scholarship. 

In 1987, Troy was in a one-game playoff to determine who from their conference would advance to the college playoffs.  Troy was trailing by 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning with 2 outs. 

Warren Arrington was the batter.  He hit a routine grounder to the 3rd baseman who could throw it to 1st and Troy’s season would be over.  But Warren was fast and ran as hard as he had ever run to 1st base.  The 1st baseman juggled the catch, and Warren was safe.  Instead of being the end of the game and season, Troy had new life!  With 2 outs, the next 3 batters got base hits.  Troy scored 3 runs and won the conference title!

This sent them to the regional playoffs where they won and then went to the national championship game at Patterson Field in Montgomery.  Troy won, and they were crowned national champions.  It’s so important to never give up! 

It all goes back to that one play, 2 outs, trailing by 2 runs, and most players would have run routinely to 1st base ending the game.  But Warren’s “never quit” attitude was that he still had a chance – and he made good on that opportunity.  Because of that, Troy has a national championship, and Warren was named an All-American.  As the old saying goes, “Winners never quit and quitters never win!”

The current baseball coach, Mark Smart, played 2nd base on that championship team.  Recently I was speaking to 400 baseball coaches at their annual convention in Birmingham, and I didn’t know Coach Smart was there.  He was pleasantly surprised when I used this illustration in my talk on never giving up. 

I talked with Warren Arrington recently, and I asked him about that historic moment.  He said he was always coached to “never give up.”  He said, “You have to give it all you’ve got until it’s over.”  That’s a great attitude toward life.  That attitude helped produce a national championship and a championship life!

Never quit!  Don’t include the word quit in your vocabulary.  I like what someone said about Napoleon – “He didn’t know the word quit – he didn’t know English!”

Never quit!  “Stay with God!  Take heart.  Don’t quit” (Psalm 27:14 MSG).  “Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate . . . the reward is life and more life” (James 1:12 MSG).  “Staying with it – that’s what is required.  Stay with it to the end.  You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved” (Luke 21:19 MSG).

What is your QQ – Quit Quotient?

What’s Your WQ – Winning Quotient?

Quotient Quizes #4 – There’s an old comment often used in sports that says, “It’s not over till it’s over.”  This statement could not be more true than what we have experienced in 6 major sporting events in the last year.  All 6 were considered to be over, but they weren’t over because the opponents came back and won.  The WQ – winning quotient – was small but decisive.

The Australia Open is one of the four major tennis tournaments each year.  This year, the finals featured two surprise players – Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.  Those names are very familiar, but neither one had won in quite some time.  Both of them had sat out the latter part of last year with injuries.  Their match went five sets.  In the 5th set, everybody thought it was over when Nadal broke Federer’s serve.  But it wasn’t over for Federer until he won the last point!  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The Big Dance – college basketball’s best 67 teams – was really something.  In the finals, North Carolina hit an unbelievable jump shot to go ahead with 5 seconds left.  Everybody thought the game was over.  However, Villanova hit a long 3-pointer that won the game 77-74.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The NBA finals featured Cleveland going for its first professional sports basketball championship in many years.  Golden State jumped ahead 3 games to 1 – everybody thought it was over.  But Cleveland came back to win 2 games and tie it 3-3.  The final game was played at Golden State.  The Warriors were ahead, and everybody thought it was over, but LeBron James made an incredible block of a shot and Kyle Irving then scored a basket to win.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The World Series featured the Chicago Cubs.  They hadn’t won a World Series in more years than anybody could remember.  The Cubs were down 3 games to1.  They came back to send the Series to a 7th game.  At different points in the 7th game, one team went ahead, and people thought it was over.  The Cubs came through with a 1-run win in the 10th inning.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

The national college football championship was a rematch from the previous year.  Alabama and Clemson battled hard, and one team took the lead and then the other.  Alabama went ahead with little time on the clock.  Everybody thought it was over, but Clemson scored with 6 seconds left.  It wasn’t over till it was over!

In the recent 51st Super Bowl, Atlanta jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead.  They increased the lead in the 3rd quarter to 28-3.  Everybody thought it was over.  Atlanta had an 8-point lead with 4 minutes left on the clock, and had the ball at the Patriots’ 20-yard line.  All Ryan had to do was run the ball and kick a field goal.  Everybody thought it was over.  The Patriots tied the score then won in overtime 34-28.  It’s not over till it’s over!

Sports ought to teach us that nobody should ever give up on any thing or any body.  It may appear to be over, but it’s not over until it’s over.  Don’t ever give up on the possibility of winning!  Expand your WQ!

What are you engaged in that you might think may be over?  Are you facing something where you think you can’t succeed?  Are you praying for somebody without seeing results?  Are you facing a situation that seems hopeless?  Remember, it’s not over till it’s over.

When 3 million Israelites reached the Red Sea, they told Moses they wanted to go back to Egypt because they thought it was over.  But Moses knew that when you follow God’s guidance, it’s never over!  Moses’ WQ prevailed!  Read Exodus 14.

What’s your WQ – Winning Quotient?

What’s Your TQ – Team Quotient?

(Second in a series – Quotient Quizes)  You have an IQ – Intelligence Quotient – for which you’ve been tested.  What is your TQ – Team Quotient?

Bear Bryant said, “Individuals win awards – teams win games.”  He always emphasized building a team.  He knew about winning.

This was illustrated in the recent National Championship football game between Clemson and Alabama.  Both are great teams and had a lot of high-profile players who are going to the pros.  But one team executed perfectly the last play.

That decisive play occurred when two guys, who are evaluated on the opposite ends of the spectrum of talent, worked together to win the game.  Deshaun Watson was a five-star recruit and at Clemson was a two-time finalist for the Heisman Award.  With six seconds left on the clock, and trailing by four points, he threw a touchdown pass to Hunter Renfrew, a “zero recruit.”

Hunter was described as a “five-foot nothing” receiver.  He drew no attention as a prospect when he came out of high school.  He turned down a scholarship to play at Appalachian State because he wanted to play at Clemson.  He walked on.  Renfrew looked like he would fit in better with Clemson’s Computer Science program than performing at a football facility.

But Renfrew became a vital part of Clemson’s National Championship team.  In that championship game, Clemson ran 99 offensive plays.  Renfrew was on the field for 98 of them.  (Don’t know where he was on that other play.)  Clemson teammate Artavis Scott refers to Renfrew as “just a little sniper.  When you look at him you think, ‘who is this white receiver?’  He lulls people to sleep, and he’s an amazing guy.”  Teammate Wayne Gallman, said, “He’s just one of the greatest receivers I’ve seen at Clemson.”

The win came because everybody functioned together as a team.  Read I Cor. 12.  The coaches had to call the right play.  The rest of the team on the sidelines was cheering.  Eleven players on the field executed together.  The offensive line blocked, and the five-star African-American player threw a pass to a white walk-on – all of them together.  Teams win.

Two guys walked out of Raymond James Stadium as national champions.  They both are strong Christians and gave credit to what God was doing in their lives, and they gave credit for the victory to their team mates.  Deshaun and Hunter come from different racial backgrounds, different talent evaluations, different sizes – but they both were important parts of the team.

Together gets it done.  Someone has said, “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.”  And that’s not just a picture for athletics and business, but for the Church and for life.

When you read the book of Revelation, you see described a lot of great music in Heaven.  You don’t find any solos – it’s all the company of Heaven as a great chorus singing together.  Life is not a solo – it’s a chorus, a team, a group of folks who win together. (Tweet this)

What’s your TQ – Team Quotient?

What Is Your CQ – Change Quotient?

First in a Series of Quotient Quizes:

You have an IQ – Intelligence Quotient – for which you’ve been tested.  What is your CQ – Change Quotient?  How do you test in your CQ?

Regardless of who you pull for, you have to recognize that Alabama football has been at the top of the ladder for the past few years.  They have won four National Championships out of the last eight years.  Some people are referring to it as a dynasty.  But it didn’t happen accidentally.

There were two high-profile college coaches at the beginning of the 2016 season.  One was Les Miles at LSU, and the other was Nick Saban at Alabama.  They both had National Championship titles and incredible records in the past.  At the end of the 2016 season, only one of them was still coaching his team.

Les Miles was fired.  How did this happen?  Most experts say he refused to change and adapt to the way football is played in 2016.  He repeatedly was told that there had to be some innovative things in offense, but changes did not occur.  Some people even described him as “stubborn.”  His outdated style of football cost him his job.

On the other hand, Nick Saban was always “in the process” of changing.  About four or five years ago he began adapting to the way football was being played, and his “process” was not something cast in stone, but something that was flexible to relate to the best way to play football.  A few years ago he was one of the biggest critics of the no-huddle, hurry-up offense.  He soon saw that the no-huddle, hurry-up offense had a lot to offer.  Today, his process has changed to incorporate often the no-huddle offense, and in most games Alabama runs more plays than the opposition!  That’s a change.

Recently Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was asked, “If somebody told you six years ago Nick Saban would be going no-huddle and tempo, would you have believed it?”  Pruitt said, “Ah, no, probably not.”

OJ Howard, the most valuable player in 2016’s National Championship game, said in a recent interview that he was amazed at the transformation of the Alabama offense from the power run and attack his freshman year to an offense that features the improvising talents of freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. Howard said, “It’s crazy to see how much we have changed since my freshman year. If you were to pitch to me during my recruitment that we would be running this type of offense, I wouldn’t have believed it.  It just shows the process of Coach Nick Saban and his willingness to change is what keeps him successful.”  He changed his CQ.

Whether it’s football, business, church, or life – if you don’t know how to navigate change, you won’t be successful or keep your job very long.  The challenge of change is to change rather than challenge the change. (Tweet this)  It’s always easy to challenge it, but the real challenge is how can we use it best!  Improve your CQ!

The wise man Solomon said, “The intelligent man is always open to new ideas.  In fact he looks for them” (Prov. 18:15).  Someone said “if you’re not standing on top of the wave of change, you will find yourself under it.”

Start the year by analyzing what things you need to change – and change them.  Remember there are some things that never change, such as the message of hope from Jesus.  Paul said, “Let me remind you brothers, for it has not changed – it is the same good news I preached to you before.  You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message” (I Cor. 15:1).  God’s message of hope and redemption never changes.

What is your CQ?

A Different Look at Winning

Football coaches are always under pressure to win.  Their win/loss record is publicized.  Winning is important.  But does scoring the most points always determine the winner?  Here is an illustration that helps you answer that.

The 6A high school championship in 2016 was played between Opelika and Ramsay.  I had a special interest in the game because I graduated from Opelika and played quarterback on the football team my senior year.  Opelika had lost in the state championship game in 2012 to Hoover.  This made the fan base for Opelika even more excited about this year.  They estimated that 20,000 people from Opelika were at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the championship game.

It was a close ball game with Opelika leading most of the first half.  An extremely interesting play occurred in the fourth quarter.  Ramsay, holding 21-14 lead, was on its own 14-yard line and had a 4th down and 27 yards to go for a first down.  The Ramsay quarterback was also the punter and decided they didn’t need to kick and called for a fake punt.  Who would ever expect a play such as that!  Because nobody was expecting it,  it was the reason it worked, and the pass was completed and covered 29 yards to get the first down.

The play occurred so unexpectedly and so quickly that it caught everybody off guard, including the Opelika defense and the game’s referees.  When the fake kick ended, everybody raced to the 43-yard line.  Ramsay lined up, snapped the ball before anyone could comprehend what had happened.  Actually, the player who received the pass was an ineligible receiver, but the referees didn’t stop the game to analyze it.  Ramsay went on to win the game by 5 points, 21-16.

After the game, the referees were very apologetic and admitted they had missed the call.  It should have been a penalty instead of a game-changing play.  The referees even reported their mistake to the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Brian Blackmon is the head coach at Opelika.  He is a winner!  At the post-game interview when everybody conceded that a mistake had been made on that fake punt, Coach Blackmon could have been angry and blamed the referees for causing Opelika to lose the game, and that could have been justified.  But instead, he took the high road.  Even though most of the fan base was vocally lamenting the fact of the bad call, he elected to show the kind of character that he teaches his players.

He calmly said that all of us make mistakes.  He said he had made a couple of mistakes in some of the plays that he called during the game.  The referees made a mistake.  He said that he taught his boys to respect authority, and the referees are the authority, so they were going to respect them and accept the bad call they made.  He handled it with class!  He lived out what he taught his players.  In my book, he is a winner even though my team scored the fewer points.  I am proud to be an alumnus of a school that has a coach like that!

High school referees have a tough assignment.  They have to make instant decisions and don’t have the advantage of a replay camera.  They need to be respected, not booed and criticized by the fans.

This year showed a marked decrease in people who applied to serve as referees in the Alabama High School Athletic Association.  It’s the first time that has happened.  I understand that the same trend has occurred throughout the nation.  Less people are applying to serve as referees at the high school level.

I played sports throughout high school and college.  Referees are human.  They, like athletes, make mistakes.  We need to create a culture where they are affirmed and encouraged.  Thank or hug a referee today!

Thank you, Coach Blackmon, for winning in the category that most of your players, fans and fellow coaches will remember for a lifetime!