As a child, a young teen especially, I was one to really look up to those who were older than me. I especially looked to those who were on the basketball floor wearing the jerseys and playing the game I dreamt about. I not only admired their ability to dribble and shoot, but watched them off the floor as well.
I still remember the joy that came when they said hello or encouraged me as I played the game. I recall thinking someday when I'm on varsity I'll do the same.
That time has come on and gone, but it was a concept I took quite seriously. One that motivated me even more during the last 14 years as I coached 3 different sports from Little League softball to varsity basketball.
I viewed my role as more than teaching the girls to hit or play zone defense. I wanted to have a positive impact on their life and set an example. This desire motivated me to coach with integrity and value the girls more than winning, but over the last couple of years a question keeps reoccurring - "Am I true role model?"
Expressions of appreciation, comments of thanks and words describing my influence all prove I've set an example for the young girls I've worked with. And I am grateful, but I once heard someone say, "If you aren't impacting them for Christ, what's the point?"
Meaning ultimately the only difference that will last is one we make for Christ. Have I done that with the girls I coach? I don't know. I've tried to encourage right over wrong, we've touched on the clothes they wear, how they treat their teammates and I've tried to walk the walk.
It has been said, "Your life may be the best sermon someone ever hears." I agree - there is power in our actions and believe in the importance of living our faith, but I recently heard someone say, "No one ever gets to heaven by watching." People have to hear the words.
So as I reflect on the ones following in my footsteps, I think about those who are a step ahead, my true role models. They no longer wear a jersey or influence me by the success they achieve, but with the words they say and the faith they live.
Their stories, some told with smiles and others tears, teach me about life. As they share their faith in God during the storms, their praise in the pain and tell about the strength that results from the hurt, I am impacted. Not just for today, but eternally.
They will never know the difference they make and my thanks will never be enough, so I've come to understand when God gives us a gift, He wants us to pass it on.
My true role models live in a way that makes me want to be like them, and I pray someday that will be true.