Life and Faith Lessons from an unexpected place: Super Bowl XLVIII, 2014

russell-wilsonI am not really an “American Football” fan and you don’t have to be either in order to understand what I am about to tell you. In fact, what I am about to tell you just might change your life. You see, I am more of a “Football-Soccer” guy (another story for another day) but as I reflected on the Super Bowl, I couldn’t help but extract some vital Life and Faith lessons, and I am going to share them with you.The Super Bowl is perhaps the event with the highest television viewership America. Two teams…one chance to be declared gods of the American sporting arena.

This year was interesting in many ways. Both the journey and the game itself had many surprises, perhaps the greatest of which was the fact that a quarterback with only two years of experience in the league (Russell Wilson), led a team to not just beat but desecrate the opponent that was led by a quarterback that is considered by many as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the league. (Peyton Manning).

Of course the team is not made up of only two men but these two men side by side (in terms of experience) was the like the classic David and Goliath story.

Here are those vital Life and Faith lessons from that game. When you finish reading this, you might have a deep urge to evaluate an area or two of your life. Don’t fight that urge. Here we go:

1) Words matter: In virtually ALL the interviews I have watched or read where this newly minted American hero and quarterback was asked any question surrounding “what was he thinking about on his journey that got him to the big stage”, Russell Wilson always referred to his Dad’s words to him as a boy and young man. Nuggets of wisdom that helped shape his thinking. Two of those nuggets that have connected with me personally are: “Why not you?” and “There is always a King in the crowd”. Those were two powerful statements that his father constantly drilled into his young mind and they helped shape the confidence and poise that took him to the big stage and earn him a seat with the greats. His father is long gone but those words have remained alive in his son. Our words matter to those that are looking up to us. Speak life and wisdom into the hearts of people and those words might just take them far. What words are you telling your friends, family, subordinates, siblings, mentees…?

2) Moving FORWARD is always more important than being BUSY: Peyton Manning, the other quarter back…the more experienced and outright legend of American football, actually set the record at that game, for the most successful passes in the Super Bowl ….yet his team lost…..BY A LOT. He successfully completed a record 34 passes and moved the ball 280 yards around the field. Russell Wilson on the other hand, the underdog, the “less experienced” quarterback, only completed 18 passes and moved the ball 209 yards across the field….and yet his team won …BY A LOT. What does this teach us? It’s not how busy you are, it’s not how many things you do…it’s not about the amount or volume of what you do…it’s about doing those things in the RIGHT direction. It’s about doing those things to move the ball of your life, career, faith, relationship, business…FORWARD.

3) There is a difference between RESPECTING someone and IDOLIZING someone: Don’t idolize anyone. Why? Because you will never be able to beat or surpass anyone/anything you “idolize”. God knew what he was talking about when he spent quality time (Over 75 times in the Bible) warning us against having Idols. (Take a look at a list of those verses HERE ). It all makes even more sense now. You can’t defeat anything you make an idol so if you make something your idol, you will be subject to it, you will not be able to have mastery over that that area of your life. Wow…it took a game I don’t really enjoy for me to realize that. So how does this Super Bowl game apply to life? In an article by the New York Times (See full article HERE), Russell Wilson…the underdog champion is quoted saying “At the end of the day, I wasn’t playing Peyton Manning,” (Wilson said.) “I was doing my job”. Wilson did not idolize Manning and that helped him stay poised. When you idolize someone or something, you inherently say that thing is too good for you. Too great for you to master. You say unconsciously that the thing you idolize is above you and you are not worth it. You unconsciously tell yourself that you cannot reach its level. If you idolize something good, you say that you are not good enough for it. If you idolize something bad, you say that you can never control it. If you idolize an opponent, you say that you can never defeat it. Don’t get it twisted. Wilson RESPECTED Manning but he did not IDOLOZE him.

4)You are not measured by your journey TO the big stage. You are measured by your performance ON it: Sometimes I wish it wasn’t so but it is. This is good for football, American Idol, your final exams, your job interview, your presentation…your LIFE. You are only measured by what you do when you get on stage. Payton Manning and his Broncos team had an incredible journey on the way to the Super Bowl. They played excellently. In fact …playing excellently is what GOT them to the Super Bowl but on the big stage, they crashed and burned.

Remember this: When you do well on the big stage, people will create a positive story out of your journey. They will go back and say that your struggles, failures, ups and downs were what made you stronger. They will say you are a great success because of those very struggles.

However, if you don’t do well on the big stage, people will create negative story about your journey. They will go back and say that your previous struggles, failures, ups and downs were signs that you couldn’t make it…signs that you were NOT ready for the big stage.

So do what you must to be excellent on that stage. You must aim to deliver. You must be ready for excellence when the opportunity calls. How do you do that? Be excellent NOW on your small stage…Be excellent on your current level.

5) People will set requirements for your success based on history: They will say in order for you to be successful at xyz, you have to be black… or white, tall…short….thin…chubby….have long hair or cut your hair, or have a million years of experience. …but that’s based on HISTORY. It’s based on the past. YOU can be the future and set new rules. Russell Wilson, our champion, is 5ft ’11inches. Not the industry standard height of great quarterbacks. In fact many said he should have picked baseball instead of football. They said his hand was not long or strong enough.

He is also the 3rd youngest quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl and he is only in his 2nd year as a professional versus Peyton Manning’s 16 years as a professional. That’s a difference of 14 years! Even without meeting the “requirements”, or “typical profile” of a winner in his profession, he won the Super Bowl and you can win in your endeavor too no matter what they have said before. No matter what the “typical profile”. You can win too.

6) You don’t win DESPITE your faith in Jesus Christ (as the world likes to put it) you win BECAUSE of it. This is a mantra I have lived by. It has served me well and it tastes even better in my mouth when I see great people acknowledge it. In an interview with Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, Russell Wilson and a few of his team mates reveal their secret to success. Jesus Christ…unanimously saying that Jesus is their center and that he is bigger and more important than the Super Bowl. Watch interview HERE. They didn’t win despite the fact that they were Christians…it looks like according to them they succeeded because they had Jesus. Do you?

So there you have it. Use it. See you at the top

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