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Exhortation – The Secret Ingredient to Sports Success

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As I watched the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina in their teal uniforms celebrate in victory last night after taking down TCU and advance to the 2016 College World Series, it was evident something deeper was driving the success of this club. A mid major baseball team without access to the traditional sports television and other venues for recruiting the top talent in the country was taking down the favored team in the semifinals to advance into the finals for the first time.   It’s always a quandry when the underdog seems to step on and step up to take the place they deserve, striving just a little harder, digging deeper, and giving more effort to show they deserve to have the spotlight too.  What is that intangible something that brings the best out young athletes and brings their God given talent to the pinnacle?  For the Chanticleer Baseball club of Coastal Carolina, the answer is uncomplicated and resides in the heart of their leader, Coach Gary Gilmore.

His post game interview on ESPN gave the secret success formula to all great sports champions and the thematic example of the greatest coach who ever lived, Jesus Christ.  Newly honored NCBWA (National College Baseball Writers Association) Coach of the Year, Gary Gilmore, said he was happy  for his players but more importantly he praised them and remarked, “ I JUST LOVE THESE KIDS!”  These five words say all you had to know about the players and their coach.  When a coach praises and loves his players, they love him/her in return.  Mutual respect, dignity, honor, and love are the secret to success in any relationship.  Leaders must understand the spiritual gift of EXHORTATION. Exhortation is the act of coming along side someone with words of encouragement to comfort, console, and counsel them to be all God wants them to be.  Though this seems simple, many coaches miss the mark and seem to be unable to console and offer praise.

Sometimes praise is not the required to effort at times and then discipline and firm correction is in order.  But, time and again it has been confirmed a corrective word followed by a word of praise has the potent effect to bring the best out of athletes.  Jesus was a master of praise for his team, the first 12 disciples.  Traveling with this band of newly called leaders, often from humble origins, He taught, He showed, and He encouraged them to be more than they thought might be possible of themselves.  Then He empowered them to carry on the ‘Good News’ after he passed from them.

Great coaches and leaders understand the power of EXHORTATION.  It is the simple and easiest way to help bring the best out of people.  Coach Gary Gilmore is an example of the power of this spiritual gift and best of luck to his Chanticleers as they take on Arizona in the finals of the College World Series in Omaha this week.

Written by Dr. Warren Bruhl, author of Wavers & Beggars (New Insight and Hope to End Poverty and Global Challenges) Publised by Westbow Press.

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