I read a great article in Sports Illustrated today. It is from the July 19 issue and it is called “Measure of a Champion” by Phil Taylor. The author talks about LeBron’s decision to leave Cleveland and go to Miami. He says that LeBron basically made this move because he is trying to shortcut his way to a championship. LeBron himself even said that he doesn’t want to get to the age of 31 and find himself with bad knees and no championship. The author was critical of how LeBron took the easy way out, but he also laid part of the blame on the emphasis that we put on championships to define the greatness of our sports stars.
He wrote, “But let’s not pretend that we can’t understand how James got the wrong impression about championships, how he got the idea that it’s all about the destination, and that the journey–the struggles along the way that bring winners to tears when the goal is finally achieved–is irrelevant. We’ve become so demanding, so impatient for stars to win titles that it shouldn’t be a total shock when someone like James tries to engineer a shortcut to one.”
I thought that was a good point. We have focused so much on the idea of a superstar needing to win a championship that it should come as no surprise when one finally decides to try and take a shortcut to get there. But we need to realize that shortcuts are also a compromise. You see, it is not just about the destination, but also about the journey.
In our lives, we can be so impatient with what is happening that we look to God for shortcuts. How often do we pray and ask God to give us patience, or peace, or joy, or whatever other characteristic we are missing in our lives? We pary for Him to take us out of bad situations and put us in good ones. We pray for tough times to go away and good times to abound. All of that is understandable, but we need to remember that as we journey through the difficult times of life, we learn and we grow, and we become all that God created us to be.
James writes in James 1:2-4, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
It is not just about the destination, but about the journey. When we seek shortcuts, we are shortcircuiting God’s will in our lives. We are trying to bypass the very things that God is using to develop in us the maturity He wants us to have so that we will be complete. Remember, He wants us to be great. But getting to that greatness requires going through the path of perseverance.
I don’t know what is going to happen with LeBron. He may very well win many championships with his new buddies in Miami and maybe everyone will forget the way he left Cleveland behind and jumped on the bandwagon heading for a championship. But we need to remember that while shortcuts can make things easier and quicker, in life those shortcuts keep us from developing the character that is going to help us become great.
Let’s stop looking for shortcuts, and let God build us into winners.