“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink….but you can salt his oats.” Orrin Woodward
How many of you have come across a situation in life where you know the right thing to do, yet you don’t do it? For whatever reason we as humans have an innate ability to “know” a lot of great things but often times never apply that knowledge at the appropriate time. But when we do, the results are spectacular.
Recently, my 14 year old son was playing a basketball game for his Christian home-school team- The Saints. The game wasn’t very close as Adam’s team outmatched their opponents, winning by a large margin. I could tell something was happening on the court as I heard one of the opposing players say to his coach,”Tell #5 that he better shut-up.” Sounded like a little “trash-talking” was going on. My son is number#31, so I felt a bit relieved that “my boy” wasn’t causing all the fuss. Yet, I was concerned because these boys were playing on a Christian home-school team and they should be playing to represent Jesus Christ.
As the game progressed I could visibly see the opposing players getting more frustrated as one of the players “leaned a shoulder” into my son as he walked by him. It was the kind of action that inferred, “Watch out, you want to fight?”
After the game, the opposing coach came over and detailed how our boys were taunting and trash-talking their players. I could see why his players would be offended, but it was nothing super serious though. After all, it’s the heat of the game and it’s nothing like we see professional athletes do on TV.
Not a big deal right? Not so. The situation was a big deal to me because these boys are supposed to represent the core of great sportsmanship, self-control, and grace. They play for a Christian basketball team called the “Saints” for crying-out-loud. In the locker room I shared with our boys what the opposing coach said, shared my thoughts, and presumed that was the end of it. Until my son told me he was “one of the boys.” Geesh.
Needless to say, I was disappointed in his behavior. We’ve had many discussions over the years regarding good sportsmanship, encouraging others, leading by example, playing above the referees, and so on.
What was done was done and it was time to move on and I prayed it wouldn’t happen again. I also prayed for another opportunity to play that team and a chance for Adam to make things right with the players and coaches that he offended.
The opportunity came the other day. A few days before the game, I seized the chance for a “teachable moment” and encouraged Adam to find the player and coach and apologize. Adam knew the right thing to do but completely rejected the idea because his pride was in the way (You can lead a horse to water…). He wanted to protect his ego and not look stupid, rather than develop his character and integrity and do the right thing by attempting to fix the relationship.
I tried not to press the issue because I wanted this to be his struggle and victory. I didn’t hear anything from Adam until we were on the way to the game and he decided he was going to apologize. I could see this wasn’t easy for him as he sat quietly not listening to the typical pre-game music. I complimented him on his decision but raised the bar by asking, “What about the coach?” Adam threw his head back into the seat saying, “Awe Dad!” The rest of the car ride was deafeningly silent.
During the warm-up I watched the scene unfold. Adam went up to the player he offended and apologized. Then he found the opposing coach and did the same thing. Both player and coach acted quite surprised. There was a little buzz on their side as athletes and coaches pointed at Adam, smiling as the message of his apology spread throughout their team. I knew after that Adam had earned a victory no matter what the final score would be.
The game ended with our boys having another lopsided victory. Yet, there was a different feeling during the game. One of sportsmanship, hard playing and healthy competition. After the game I went up to the opposing coach and apologized for my responsibility in Adam’s behavior. He smiled and told me how he brought his team together before the game and let them know, “They apologized, It’s all OK now.” The coach released them of their anger and resentment diffusing what could have blown-up into something regrettable.
It was a proud moment for Dad to see his son think and act like a leader at such a young age. Adam showed me what true wisdom (information applied) and humility look like in real life. Adam was given the right information, thought about it, and acted appropriately which provided a great teachable moment to share with others.
Pride is a huge problem that plagues our culture and prevents us from acting appropriately with the right information. I’m so thankful the LIFE business helps families and individuals navigate the prideful waters of life. LIFE is self-directed education that helps teach individuals to identify problems and find solutions. It teaches us how to think and apply. I’m not sure how that scenario would’ve played out without the LIFE business, but I do know it gave me the skills to lead the horse to water and help him drink. Join the movement and experience your own life victories.