Friday, April 7, 2017

An Athlete's Truth - Collier Winters (Part 3 - Designed for a Purpose)

     I'm really excited to present to everyone part 3 of Collier Winter's segment of "An Athlete's Truth". It has been incredible getting to know Collier through his writing and what he shares. I consider it truly an honor to have met him and to have had him write for Coached in Truth. Thank you again Collier for your contribution to the Coached in Truth community! We have been waiting for this for a while so we are excited that it is here! So here we go! Part 3 - Designed for a Purpose by Collier Winters.

Part 3: Designed for a Purpose
It is great to finally sit down and write the part 3 of this series!  Sorry for the wait.  The holiday season came, along with some new responsibilities in the new year, and my attempts to write kept getting postponed.  Anyway, I am finally making it happen!  I really appreciate all of you who have been following along with parts 1 and 2.  Hopefully, part 3 will leave you with enough inspiration and practicals to go confidently and bring glory to God in whatever sport you are playing!
After I graduated from college, I was still pursuing my dreams to play in the NFL.  I signed with an agent, traveled to Kansas City to train, performed at my Pro Days at Boston College and at Harvard, and was looking for an opportunity to make a preseason camp with an NFL team!  Although I had a few teams who were interested, ultimately, that opportunity never came.  I was disappointed, but I also began to look for alternative ways to pursue my dream.  I continued to train for the next 7-8 months in order to tryout for a few Canadian Football League teams the following year.  After my tryouts, I was invited to preseason camp with the Montreal Alouettes.  I was ecstatic!  It seemed as though I might be on my way to making my dream happen!
I want to pause the story here to share what was also going on in my life personally, and spiritually, during all of this training.  While I was training, I was also an intern at the church in Boston (after I came back from Kansas City).  I was working in the campus ministry (leading a Bible Talk at Harvard) and also helping out with the teen ministry.  Throughout this time, my heart really began to grow more and more for the work of God’s kingdom.  My biggest dreams and passions were beginning to change, and my desire to become a minister even started to rival my desire to become a professional football player!  I realized that there was nothing more important or impactful that I could be doing with my time than helping people to know Jesus!  This didn’t mean that I immediately stopped pursuing a career in football - as I said, I was still training and working hard, and then went up to Montreal - but, it helped me to recognize more fully a crucial and fundamental part of being a Christian: my life is no longer about me.  Paul says it perfectly in 2 Corinthians 5:15, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”  When I understand this and really put it into practice, it had a big impact on my life and the way I that I thought about things.
One of the clearest changes that I made was in my prayer life.  I used to pray, “God, I pray that you would give me the opportunity to bring you glory by playing in the NFL.”  And I had all kinds of reasons why this would be so great - I could talk about Him on TV, I could use the money I made to help a lot of people, I could reach out to all of my teammates, and so on.  These, I thought, were actually pretty good reasons why it should happen!  But, what I began to pray in light of 2 Corinthians 5 was that God would make it clear to me how I could have the most impact for Him and His kingdom; and if football wasn’t it, I prayed that God would close that door.
Now, back to the story.  I had a great first week of camp with Montreal.  I was still figuring out all of the nuances of Canadian football, but things seemed to be going pretty well.  Then, I got a knock on my door one evening and was told that I was cut from the team.  That was definitely a sad and discouraging day.  My dream had taken a big hit.  However, I had prayed that prayer for God to make things clear for me so many times by then, that I knew this was His answer.  I had other opportunities to continue chasing my football dream, but I believed God shut that door as an answer to my prayer.  I believed (and still believe) He was telling me that I could have more impact for Him and His kingdom by being a minister than by playing football.  As Christians, and as Christian athletes, we are not here on Earth to live out our will or to fulfill all of ourdesires.  We are here to live out God’s will and to fulfill His desires.  He has blessed us with many great talents and we should do our best to use them to glorify Him; but, ultimately, our greatest desire should be for God himself.  In life, the only lasting impact we will have is what we did to build God’s kingdom.  So, how do you bring glory to God through sports?  You play for Him and not for yourself… and at some point he may call you in a different direction.  When this happens, we cannot sacrifice spiritual impact in this world for the sake of fulfilling our own desires.
So, my final message to you is to recognize that you were designed for a purpose! Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  What an incredible verse this is!  Take some time to meditate on it (and even compare it to Jeremiah 1:1-8!).  God created you and he designed you to do good works!  These works are not playing football, or basketball, or running track, or swimming.  These works are the things that build God’s kingdom!  It is clear that God has given us all different gifts and abilities, but our purpose is to know God and to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).  Sports can and does bring glory to God if we do it the right way; but, we were designed for MUCH greater things than playing sports!
In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put in on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  As an athlete with great opportunity to impact and influence many people, don’t hide your light!  Lives that look the same as everyone else’s, don’t have impact.  God is calling you to have great impact!  While you are playing, and as long as you can play, be a light to your teammates!  You can reach people with God’s love that others can’t reach.  Show people who God is through your life and your example.  Reach out to them, invite them to church, show them the Bible, show them Jesus!  No matter what you are doing or where you are at in life, this is what God calls all of us to do!  Just remember, you were designed for a purpose and that purpose is for God’s glory!
I really appreciate your time in reading these posts.  I am grateful to share my life with you.  I hope this has been both helpful and inspirational.  I pray that your minds will be set on God as you play your sports and that you can experience how awesome it is to live out your purpose in life by bringing glory to God in whatever you do!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Know Your Role! (Part 1)

     One of the most important things you can do as a member of any team is to understand your role. This isn't always easy though, especially when you may think or want your role to be one thing but in actuality it is something different. Every individual has something unique they can contribute. The Bible talks about how there are many different parts of the Church, referred to as the body, and that each part plays a unique role in God's Kingdom ( 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 ). Each person that is a part of the Kingdom of God is valued in the same way because he has placed each part of the body where it needs to be.
     Now when we apply that to being a part of a team then it is very obvious to see why this idea would hold value. Not every person on the team can share the same role. Let's take basketball for a second (shocker that I would use basketball as an example lol). If every person on the team thought they should be the Point Guard then who would get a majority of the rebounds and maintain the inside presence? If every person on the team thought they should be the leading scorer, then if would be very difficult to convince everyone to pass and move the ball around because everyone would be looking to get their own shot off. What if everyone who thought they should be a starter but aren't had a bad attitude about it and didn't push as hard in practice as a result? Of course all these things would be detrimental to a team’s success.
     I read a book recently call Teammates Matter by Allen Williams that really illustrated this point as well. To sum it up quickly, it was written by a guy who was a very good high school basketball player and was the star of his team. He had dreams of playing college basketball but because of his lack of a physical presence, many coaches thought he would be too small to play Division 1 basketball. Long story short, he gets the opportunity to be a walk on (non-scholarship player) at the school of his dreams, Wake Forest University. He never imagined that he would have the opportunity to play here. Well, as a walk on, to be quite honest, you don't play. You are an extra guy in practice, you will most likely play only garbage minutes at the end of the game when the outcome has already been decided, and receive little to no recognition for the hard work you put in. Walk-ons are expected to do all the same things scholarship players are required to do, but the big difference is that as a walk on you will likely keep your warm ups on at the end of the bench for the entire game.
     Can you imagine how different his roles were between his high school team and his college team? COMPLETELY DIFFERENT! He could have very easily given up basketball, walked away from his spot on the team and no one would think any different of him. As a matter-of-fact most people would say that would be the smarter thing to do. Instead, he took it upon himself to embrace this new role as a walk on. He worked just as hard if not harder than every player on the team. He pushed his other teammates in practice so that they would play at the best of their abilities when game time came around. Again, he DID NOT have to do this. He chose to accept and embrace this role and as a result he experienced things he never thought he would ever in a million years ever get to experience. He formed relationships that would have never been made possible without him embracing his role.
     If you get the chance to read this book, please do so because it is extremely inspiring and humbling as we take a look at what it means to know and embrace your role. I'll include a link at the bottom of the post if you would like to take a look at it. In my next post I'll share a story from the Bible that illustrates the importance even more so of knowing your don't want to miss it so stay tuned!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Playmakers 2017 Devo - When Opportunity Comes Knocking

     It's been a while since I've posted anything and for that I apologize. I got really busy with the end of basketball season along with other things. Anyway, something I have been meaning to put up here for a while is a devotional that I did not to long ago. I'm going to copy over my notes for your to take a look at. It's nothing major just a few thoughts about making the most of every opportunity. Last mouth I traveled down to Tampa, Florida to play in the Playmakers flag football tournament. This tournament is the largest church sponsored flag football tournament in the country. I got to travel down with a bunch of good friends of mine and fellowship with my brothers and sisters from other church congregations as we participated in this weekend of flag football awesomeness.
     This devotional I wrote to share with my team the day we left to drive to Tampa. Now my team was made up of brothers from all over the North Carolina, South Carolina, and even Virginia areas. These are all brothers I have crossed paths with at some point in my life and have formed an incredible bond with. We all use to live a lot closer to one another but now we are all over the place but this is one tournament that we all look forward to because it brings us all back together, even if it's only for a weekend. Trust me when I say that these are the brothers I would fight for, these are the guys I would stand up for and these are the guys I would lay it all out on the line for. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Each an every one of them have played a unique role in helping me to become a better man of God. David had his Mighty Men in the Bible, well these are some of my Mighty Men.
     Sorry for the soap box but these guys are really special to me and I want them always to remember that. Win, lose or draw, these are by guys. So with that being said this is the devotional I shared with them before we made our trip.

Playmakers 2017 Devo

Many of you know I have started a blog called Coached in Truth. It's a blog dedicated to helping athletes out there who are striving to glorify God in their athletic endeavors. This has helped me to keep a Godly mindset in my own coaching. Any athlete knows it's easy to get caught up in all that surrounds athletics and quickly make things less about God and more about ourselves.

I want to talk about opportunity but before I do that I want you to think about your closest relationships. What makes those relationships so special? Why do you consider them close relationships? What had to happen in order for you to become close in those relationships?We are bonded through experiences. Athletics are one of those experiences we get to have. The highs the lows....all of it.

Athletics are a gift and it's a gift that allows us to connect with other people through sweat and tears. Real relationships have the potential of being formed. Trust that cannot be broken. There is something special when you get together with a group of others to try and accomplish something that is so mentally and physically taxing. It is really difficult to describe at times. Many people don't experience it through sports or athletics but they make experience it through other means.

Men tend to build relationships through experiences. When we experience things together, good or bad, we are bonded because of it. The opportunity we have to bond with one another begins with an experience.

What comes to mind when you think of the word opportunity?

Ephesians 5:15-17We are surrounded by opportunities each and every day that have the potential to build something that wasn't there before.

What are some of those opportunities? To love our spouse, to share the Bible with a coworker, to make something special for someone, to set an example, to serve. Do we see those opportunities?

We have an obligation to look for those opportunities and to make the most of them because the days are evil. God tells us we are on a time constraint. Once the 4th quarter ends....the game is over.

Have you ever bought something that was nonrefundable or had a nonrefundable fee attached to it? Examples?

Time is nonrefundable. You choose how you spend it, but you don't get any of it back. You choose what to put in front of you, what thoughts to dwell on, what you choose to focus on.

We have an opportunity this weekend. An opportunity to build something that was there before. Years from now when we tell our kids about how we drove to Florida for a flag football tournament (and win a championship lol) what will be the highlight of our story? Is it going to be about the actual games played or about the eternal bonds that were formed.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

An Athlete's Truth - Sayma Waleh

     I am honored to share a story with you all of a dear friend of mine. Sayma Waleh has been a great friend to me over the years and he has an incredible story to share about how he came to know God and how even though experiencing injury through athletics, he was able to see a new perspective of what was really important to him. He has played High School Football and has ran Track as well! Without further ado, here is his story!

"Unlike most athletes, sports were not an interest of mine growing up. In fact, I hated sports and saw them as a waste of time. As a kid, I would much rather be inside drawing, watching cartoons or playing video games. However as I got older, my perspective on sports changed.
Fast forward to middle school where football games during recess were a big deal. The games looked really fun but I just decided to never join in. One day a group of my friends were playing and needed an extra person. I initially declined but after some convincing I joined and starting playing. To my surprise, I did pretty well. In fact, I was just as fast if not faster than the other kids. From that day on I was hooked. I played football any chance I could get and grew to love the game. I played with kids in my neighborhood, during recess, and even at the bus stop before school. The more I played, the better I got.
That summer, I ran, worked out, and played football in hopes of going of out for the middle school football team. When tryouts came I made the team! It was a great feeling! Being a football player gave me a lot of new attention from teachers and peers alike. I was treated a lot of differently when people saw me with a football jersey; like a good different though. The popular kids, the jocks, and even the pretty girls treated me like I was important. From that time on, I was no longer a shy kid in the back. I was one of the cool kids and all the new attention felt great.
The following year I attended Mallard Creek High School and the same thing happened. It was crazy how much respect and privilege came with being on a team. Around that time I started thinking about the future and took football more seriously. I became a starter at cornerback,  thought about playing college ball, and eventually wanting to be in the NFL. The Summer after my freshman year I continued playing and started studying the bible throughout summer break. I started discovering who God was and wanted to learn more about him. I tried to continue my bible studies but I would continually lose focus keeping up with school and playing sports year round. Practicing football in the summer and fall, and then running track and field in the winter and spring kept me really occupied. I always thought I would learn who God was but at the time my main focus was athletics.
This is all changed during my junior year. During practice, I suffered a hip flexor injury causing me to miss a lot of summer football practice. Until my injury, I did not realize how much of my self worth was in sports. During that time, I started thinking that all the things I was currently chasing were fleeting. Being good at sports and popularity are never permanent. If you base your worth on that you’ll never find satisfaction. Looking back my injury was probably one of the best things that happened. I was able to sit back and gain a lot of perspective on life. My performance in athletics should not define me. I was much more than an athlete and began searching for something more fulfilling. The first place I turned to was God. Through studying the bible I discovered my self worth in God was much more fulfilling than anything this world had to offer.
During my studies, I resonated with scriptures like Romans 5:8, Psalm 62: 5-6, and Romans 8:35-39 which allowed me to see my self worth in something bigger than myself. Later on that year, I kept studying the bible, became a disciple of Jesus, reached out to others, and started leading a weekly bible talk after school. Even though I stopped playing football, I still chose to continue to run track and field because the season was not as time consuming. With a new perspective on sports I went on to place in conference championships and set school records but never put God on the back burner.
From then on my self worth was no longer based on my performance or how others saw me, it would be based on God’s love for me. Which is nothing I could actually earn or lose and was always unconditional. Our self worth is too often based on what other people tell us about ourselves or how they view us. The true authority on our self worth is Jesus Christ. He was blameless, but gave his own life up for us by dying on a cross when we didn't deserve it. That alone should be an illustration of how valuable we really are."

Sayma Waleh

Comment below to let Sayma know you enjoyed his story or if you have any questions for him!