The Coach’s Dream–1 John 2:3

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. –1 John 2:3

In this, the best of all possible worlds, the Kansas Jayhawks have just found their way into the NCAA Final Four for the first time since 2003, when Kirk Heinrich’s last-second three-point attempt against Syracuse in the title game found iron and bounced away. Next Saturday, KU will play North Carolina for the chance to advance to the title game. They’ll probably get steamrolled by the Tarheels, but until then, I can live in basketball fan bliss.

I mention all of this hoops dreaming because that’s what today’s verse puts into my head.  Next week, when my beloved Jayhawks lace up their Nikes, the biggest obstacle in their path will be one Tyler Hansbrough, pride of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, a six-foot-nine twenty-two-year-old who does just about everything that coach Roy Williams asks him to do. After posting All-American seasons during his freshman and sophomore years, Hansbrough did not rest on his laurels. Instead he worked hard on his defense and on extending his shooting range. When you’re six-foot-nine, nobody really expects you to have a shot beyond ten feet, but Tyler developed such a shot, so that by season’s end, he was hitting fifteen-footers regularly. Granted, the kid missed all five of his three-point attempts this season, but that just gives him something to work on for next season.

What impresses me about Hansbrough is that he actually listens to his coach. Gifted beyond belief with natural talent, he doesn’t listen to his own ego or to the adoring fans. He listens to Roy Williams. When Roy tells him he’d like to see him defend better next year, that’s what Tyler works on. When Roy says to work on your jumper, Tyler shoots hundreds of mid-range jumpers. This guy is a coach’s dream.

Basketball coaches frequently see talented kids come into their programs and then watch as those kids stop listening and start believing the hype about themselves. Those aren’t the real players. The real players combine talent with a teachable spirit.

Although I will undoubtedly never dunk a basketball or use my years of NCAA eligibility in anything more demanding than darts, you and I have been recruited to a championship team. Having been offered the scholarship, the jury is still out on whether we have fully and whole-heartedly joined the team. How can you tell a genuine Jayhawk or a genuine Tarheel from the counterfeits, the pretenders? The genuine article listens to the coach.

Genuine Christians listen to God. John isn’t suggesting here that the genuine Christian is perfect, any more than Tyler Hansbrough is perfect. But the genuine article can be led and taught. The genuine article obeys.  So the question we must all ask is whether we are the real deal or pretenders.

And by the way, “Go ‘Hawks!”