What does the end justify?

I ate McDonalds tonight. I know, I know, everybody does at some time or another, and its really not that big of a deal. Well, it is somewhat of a big deal when you are going to compare some folks to McDonald’s in a not so positive way. I actually “enjoyed” my meal; if you call eating a fish fillet at 10pm an enjoyable meal. I really am seeking to answer two questions concerning our measurements of success and the steps taken to achieve what one deems success.

Last night, John Calipari coached the University of Kentucky to a National Championship in men’s basketball. Oops, I should have written supervised. Unfortunately this too quickly reveals my thoughts of Coach Cal, as he is called. I probably should give a little background.

I love watching college basketball. Since I began to coach and referee basketball eons ago I began to look for and appreciate some of the nuances that go into coaching a basketball game. It became very exciting to watch a role player, a guy who normally sits but is used to fulfill a specific role on the team, step up in a large game for his team. Whether it is a rarely-used shooting guard or a lane-enforcing forward, those are exciting and fun things to watch. It is also fun to watch a coach experiment with the chemistry of a team and see things just take off in the middle of a game. It is also great to watch the emotions of guys who have given years to a coach, a university, and a fan base, and see them be rewarded by passionate support from those people.

Over the last several years much of college basketball has changed. Sure, the majority of teams still have those role players but a new group of teams has emerged. These are the teams which have stocked themselves with potential pros who will stay for 2 years at maximum, and they simply hope to overwhelm everyone they play. There is nothing technically wrong with these teams. They are following the rules as outlined by the NCAA and the influence of the NBA. However these teams seem to be a natural prohibitive to many of the things that I love about basketball.

When I began to write this short article I had been listening to ESPN radio as I traveled that day. Foremost on the short time of broadcast that I overhead was a discussion as to whether this championship truly crowned Coach Calipari as a great coach. Really? Are we so simplistic as a culture that winning a championship with arguably 7 out of the top 30 or 40 players in college, deems that you are crowned as a great coach? A great recruiter of NBA talent is certainly a worthy crown for Coach Calipari, but I’m not so sure that I would crown him a great coach.

You see, McDonald’s is a restaurant that we have all probably eaten at. However, I doubt that very many of us would list any of their sandwiches in our top 10 of sandwiches. Is this because they are horrible, or is it simply because we realize that McDonald’s top priority is making a profit by efficiently serving as many people as possible? For this reason I am willing to recognize Calipari’s success in college basketball but will do so without calling him a great coach with a great legacy.

I can’t stop there. Recently I have been reminded of how I need to be intentional in dealing with my children. Too often I take the McDonald’s approach instead of seeking to understand each one of my kids, their particular quirks as well as their potential needs. I respond in such a way that makes it very clear that I am only interested in my immediate command being obeyed than I am in whether or not as a dad that I am correctly leading and directing them.

As a pastor I also have to guard myself from manipulating Scripture or failing to examine the entirety of Scripture when seeking to make a point or in dealing with an individual. When someone disagrees with me it is certainly an easy reaction to seek to defend myself or my viewpoint in a very controlling or authoritative way. Sadly, just as with my children, I have done this. Unfortunately I have often reassured myself later with the same assurances we give ourselves after consuming an 1100 calorie meal from McDonalds; I was in a hurry, it was the only way (only place open), or I just felt like it at the time. In the end hopefully we all realize that we will have to pay for those excuses and those decisions.


Published by Daniel M Harding

Husband, father, associate pastor.

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