Links Daily Devotional

Healthy Enthusiasm

Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:13-15, NASB)

You want drama in televised golf? Watch team events where the players bleed for each other and their coaches, where every victory—from a five-foot putt that drops to a match won—is shared and celebrated, and where every loss is greeted with true disappointment and sorrow, mixed in with a teaspoon of hope for “next time.”

The Ryder Cup has most of those elements and can be amazingly dramatic, but the competition that fills the room with drama is the NCAA college golf championship. I’m a little jaded as a watcher of golf tournaments, but I was riveted by the action coming out of my flat screen on the first day of televised college play this year. Riveted.

Would Stanford, where I lived for 18 years and have many friends, get the first seed? They did. Would Illinois (where my wife, brother, brother-in-law, and father-in-law went to school) get into the final eight? One of their players shot a final round 63 to secure their place by a stroke! These kids could flat play, but the nerves were out and it was a joy to watch.

One of the prime subplots in all of that was Mike McGraw. He had been the head coach at Oklahoma State University for eight years, winning a national title his first year. Then he was fired. He was snatched up as an assistant coach at Alabama, the top-ranked team in the nation. Naturally, Alabama and Oklahoma State, the second-ranked team in the country, played each other in the finals, with every player on the OSU team having been recruited and signed by McGraw. His former assistant was now OSU’s head coach, and he had made the program stronger. But Alabama won.

In the awards ceremony the interviewer asked Mike McGraw why he said yes to the offer of an assistant’s job at Alabama when several schools would have wanted him as their head coach. He humbly said, “Because of what I could learn from Coach Seawell. He taught me that I undervalued enthusiasm.” There was more, but I could feel tears welling up in my own eyes as this 54-year-old gentleman spoke of his own shortcomings and of his joy at the accomplishments and character of both teams.

Do you undervalue enthusiasm? Many of us do, dismissing it as some rah-rah false cheer, but it is much more than that. Look at the word closely and you will see en (in) and a syllable that comes from Theos (God), so enthusiasm once meant “to be inspired.” I like to think of it as “God in me,” and with God in me, which of course he is, why would I not have strong excitement, a strong feeling of active interest in things I enjoy?

The idea that God is in us, or that we are inspired by God, is spoken of in derogatory terms by those who do not understand it. After a while, it is easy even for us to think of enthusiasm as a negative trait. Mike McGraw had done that for himself, and in his own words he had become “a dud for about two years, and I didn’t even know it.”

Want the formula for becoming dull, uninteresting, a “dud?” Get God out of your life, out of you. Would you rather be a bearer of excitement and joy and encouragement to those around you? Recognize and acknowledge God’s presence in you. Live and speak and act with enthusiasm, and you will be amazed at how interesting life and the people around you will suddenly become. Learn the lesson Mike McGraw learned: value enthusiasm.

Lewis Greer
June 3, 2014
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