REMEMBERING THE LEGENDARY PAT SUMMITT

This is totally aside from what this blog is about, but because I live in Knoxville, TN, the loss of Pat Summitt touches everyone who lives here.  One determined woman made a difference for a lifetiime and my son wrote about her legacy through his eyes.  It was just too good not to share.....


Is “Good”, Good Enough?

By Matt Wilson

We've all been there. It's Saturday morning, your half awake. Your child, grandchild, niece or nephew has a game. Like clockwork you hear it…  The overly competitive parent, shouting at the top of their lungs everything their kid is doing wrong. You almost feel embarrassed for them, for their kid. The typical train of thought is that this is an overly competitive parent living vicariously through their child. But could it be that in some cases, it's actually something more, something better, and maybe even something we are missing?

As I process the passing of the legend Pat Summit, where she came from and the upbringing that made her the person she was, there is a scenario going around and around in my head.

She was an unapologetic competitor who dug out the best you had, (even when you didn't know it was there), and showcased it for thousands to see. Never letting up, as she would continue to push you even when there was nothing left to give. 

As I read an old Sports Illustrated article from the mid-nineties, revealing her upbringing,  standards today would define it as abusive.  She was left alone in the middle of a field at twelve years old with a tractor and a hay rake simply told to “do it”, knowing if just one thing was not right her father would surely let her know his disappointment.  Or how she never cried because when she did her daddy just spanked her harder. Yet never once have I witnessed her call it abuse, rather it forged life lessons in her that would prepare her for the beautiful, yet grueling,  journey ahead.  And then I heard player after player talk about how hard she was on them, but they knew it was out of fierce love.  

You see, I believe Pat Summitt knew what so many of us have lost, that it's not just a Nobel thing to give your best, it’s required of you. She believed if she didn't exhume everything out of you, then she was selling you short. By not giving you all she had, she was letting you down.  And yet, because of her ability to stay grounded, she always had an uncanny approachability for help and council. 

In reflecting on this, the thought occurred to me, when did our society decide that demanding the best out of ourselves and those around us comes at too high a cost?  And what is that cost? That it's too difficult? That I might get my feelings hurt? When did we decide that kids couldn't take the disappointment of losing, so we will just not keep score?  When did demanding excellence become.....abuse?

Don't get me wrong, I believe there is context to everything. You see, that's what made Pat go beyond just a coach, and become a legend. She served people. She wasn't doing it for self-gratification or some great notoriety. She did it because she wanted to show others that when we constantly give our very best, we will improve our lives and those around us. She received genuine joy at seeing others understand that and succeed. Do I believe you should charge out to your kids’ next game and scream and yell to get them a win?  No. What I do believe is that we are raising a generation of kids who are being told that as long as you try, and you are good, you are going to succeed. To just do what makes you happy, yet we are not equipping them with the power to know what that is.

So now there are kids entering the "real world" who think they have life figured out. That they are going to take it easy, do just enough to get by, and that's happiness. So when their boss comes down on them for not doing things the right way, or not putting forth enough effort, they crumble. They have no reference point in life to know how to handle that. Everything has told them, that this (mediocrity) is happiness, and now this boss is telling them it's not enough. 

Why does this matter?

I am a follower of Jesus, and everywhere I look in the Bible it seems He is warning of the hard road ahead when one decides to follow Him. He is demanding our best, to be "fully devoted". How can I teach my kids what that looks like if I am consumed with how their feelings may get hurt if they don't win a game?  No! In life there are winners and losers. The difference in the two, nine times out of ten, is who wants it more and works the hardest. 
  • So I ask myself, am I ok with mediocrity for my kids, or do I want them to discover why a sovereign God created them and placed them on this earth?  
  • Do I want them to discover the real joy that God promises because he never promised happiness?  
  • Do I teach them to give everything they have and be completely committed to a life of serving?  
  • To be disciplined in every area of their life?

As long as we can label that overly competitive parent as radical, then our mediocrity somehow seems Nobel.

The other day I was discussing the state of our country and the world with someone. I was very distraught over where we are headed. They reminded me that as a Christian we should be excited, Gods word is coming to life.  As a Christian I am, as a parent I am terrified for what my kids will face. That is why I believe it's time to step up as parents and forge the greatness out of our kids. They will never know it’s there unless someone shows them. 

However, our first job is to make sure they know we love them. This requires a significant time investment in their lives. Kids see right through excuses. You see, Pat had the platform to teach because the girls knew she cared. When she yelled and screamed, they knew it was because she loved them enough to push them past where they thought possible. I was reading an interview with a former player. She was asked about "the stare", (the stare that Pat gave when you messed up).  UFC, WWE, those guys got nothing on the “Pat stare”. She responded by saying "once you know her, you see the love in her eyes even during the stare".  She had the ability to show love even during the toughest correction.

Proverbs 13:24 Msg "A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them."

Proverbs 29:1 Msg "For people who hate discipline and only get more stubborn, there'll be a day when life tumbles in and they break, but by then it'll be too late to help them."

Love your kids, invest in them, and expect greatness from them.

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