For 30 years, Pete Carril was the basketball coach at Princeton University. He won 514 games there – the only coach to win more than 500 games without the benefit of athletic scholarships.
Coach Carril had a lot of success at a school known more for academics. No doubt, he worked with a number of student-athletes for whom the order really was just that: student, then athlete. One of those guys was Steve Goodrich, who played center. Carril was asked once why he didn’t move Goodrich from center to forward, where he would play further away from the basket. Carril’s reply? “He has the shooting range. What he doesn’t have is the making range.”
When my daughters were younger, they would spend New Year’s Eve with a friend whose dad grew up in Europe. And when they were in elementary school, they began the tradition of celebrating the New Year at 7:00pm, when it was midnight in Europe. As little kids, this enabled them to have a New Year’s party, and still be in bed well before 12:00.
But the tradition continued, even when they were able to stay up late. And along with the 7pm celebration, another tradition developed. We began writing down our resolutions for the new year, and sealing them in an envelope – to be opened the next New Year’s Eve.
Somehow, we adults got pulled into this tradition – and I remember writing down all kinds of stuff. Some was silly, and some serious. Some of it would happen naturally, and some would require effort to happen. It was always interesting to open those each year, and remember what I thought I was going to do, or hoped to do – or simply never got to.
See, here’s the deal: life happens. It happens whether you plan it, or not. And even what you plan often doesn’t turn out exactly how you plan. As we approach the new year, you will be “shooting” at something. But what will you be making?
As I think about 2015, and new year’s resolutions, and, even more, what it means to live intentionally and faithfully, here is what I would encourage you with:
- Start with grace. We are not called to just do stuff, nor simply accomplish things on some kind of cosmic checklist. Instead, the place to start – in the new year, or with any new decision – is grace. To trust in, rely on, and rest in the all-sufficient grace of God.
- With grace as your foundation, commit to daily living out your calling. New Year’s resolutions are made in a day – but they are lived out day-by-day. Every day. Whatever you hope to become in 2015, it will happen by God’s grace – and by daily seeking to grow into that.
- And what does daily living out your faith teach you? Well, a lot of things, no doubt – but one of them is certainly humility. Humility when you stumble. Humility when you have small successes. Humility when life happens exactly as you plan. Humility when life blows up in your face. For daily growth will teach you that life is hard, and humility is essential – because stuff will happen that you can’t control.
- Which leads to another thing we need: friends for the journey. You simply will not grow as you want to, as you need to, without others to encourage, challenge, and love you through the process. Whatever you hope to become, make sure there are others – godly, faithful friends – to walk with you along the way.
- And finally, make sure you end where you began. With grace. For I can think of no better place to start the year, and end the year – or to start a life, and end a life – but with grace. For in the end, we are not determined by what we accomplish, but by who we are. And I know – I know – the only way for me to become who I am called to become, is not by doing more, but by trusting more. And resting in His grace.
So, what do you say? Are you ready for a Grace-filled and Faithful New Year?