5 Reasons EVERY athlete should read THE ASSIST

I’ll lead off with saying that this is certainly a book that would fall under the category of “Christian Living,” at your local Barnes and Noble store and yes, it’s a book intentionally written for today’s athlete.  That being said, don’t let the subtitle, “A Gospel-Centered Guide to Glorifying God Through Sports,”  fool you; this is a book for ALL athletes and not just Christian athletes, here’s why.

 

1.  The Assist is riddled in principles of camaraderie, joy, humility and servanthood.    

You’ll notice that all of the traits listed are characteristics you’d expect (or hope) to find in today’s leaders, many of which are athletes.  Yet our society’s athletes seem to only be filled with these principles of leadership when things go their way, which makes athletes seem disingenuous. Win or lose, The Assist covers how to to incorporate these traits in all trials and triumphs in sport.   There are more than just those four mentioned in this book; it’s hard to go more than two pages without coming across some sound advice or case study from supplementary authors.

2.  The Assist reduces ambiguity surrounding sport and its purpose 

It’s ok to want to “win” in sports, but there’s a higher purpose than winning- sports can  be the catalyst to serve others and is an excellent avenue to practice good stewardship.  Many of the chapters touch on aspects of stewarding your sport/ influence/ opportunity/ challenges, in a way that is constructive and fruitful for not just you, but those around you.

3.  The Assist covers emotionally difficult topics for athletes

Once an athlete tastes success, it can become addicting to prolong a career, even to the point where it’s damaging (I’d make the argument that Brett Favre is a strong case study of this).  Favre didn’t want to retire, it’s clearly evident through his years of team-hopping.  Retirement is just one of those categories The Assist touches on where many athletes become filled with emotion and dismay.  It’s an emotional subject for many athletes.  Thanks to The Assist athletes can find more direction than dismay on the subject of retirement (seriously debating writing on this topic alone).   Other topics covered which athletes seem to struggle with are- dealing with injuries and with difficult people (in particular teammates you don’t get along with and coaches); often The Assist will convict you in the way you’ve traditionally dealt with those people.

4.  The Assist will convict you

As aforementioned in #3, it’ll convict you.  There are portions of Smith’s book which I heavily favor, in particular chapters 1, 5 and 6.  Why?  Each chapter contains some sort of content that flies in the face of prosperity gospel.  For those unfamiliar with the term it is often phrased like this on some flowery Instagram post, “good things happen to good people.”  Christian or not, that statement is nothing more than mental debris.  I could spend tons of time writing why but I’ll leave it at this, too many athletes truly believe in prosperity gospel and whether in sport or in life that mentality will damage an athlete’s psyche.  Those who read will find there are topics like prosperity gospel where they feel convicted about a mindset that often is part of our culture and Smith challenges the reader to confront these mindsets.  As a subtle nod to Smith I’ll say this, one of my convictions from reading your book has been “getting over it” and I know some friends (some even ex-pastors) that need to challenge themselves to do the same.

5.  The Assist is marinated in truth    

Fake food.  Fake friends.  Fake smiles.  Fake results.  Fake news.  Fake leaders.    This world needs more real… more truth.  It’s exactly what you’ll find in The Assist.  It’s what makes the book a convicting read for athletes who desire to be better athletes (whether as a leader or a Christ follower).  Frequently I found myself questioning traditional patterns of thought because of these truths.  For Christians the source of these truths is blatant and clear, no need to say more.  For those who don’t identify as Christians take this as a challenge: use any source material quoted from the Bible as literary/historical wisdom, a tool which you can use to make yourself a better athlete.  Don’t become cynical in thinking that The Assist  only quotes source material from the Bible, Smith integrates quotes from other writers and popular stories to clearly deliver his points.

 

Bonus : 

Brian Smith works with AIA Wisconsin, a Christian org. that focuses on walking with student athletes through daily struggles, mentoring them to ultimately live in a way that is glorifying to God and redemptive to the tainted image of athletes at the higher levels.  The Wisconsin AIA staff have had a profound effect on my life and many others, and purchasing a copy of this book would effectively help them to reach more student athletes.

 

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What can you learn from your 22 year old son while walking 75 miles in 3 days time? (Guest Post)

My son Scott and I went on a little adventure last week and walked from our home in Greenfield Wisconsin to Madison in three days.  MapQuest demonstrates a 76.76 mile route to follow, which includes a 50 mile beautiful hiking trail named the Glacial Drumlin State Trail.  Why would anyone want to do such a thing, you ask?  Well, after you hear about the three special things I learned you will want to take up some hiking trails with your college age son or daughter as well. Continue reading “What can you learn from your 22 year old son while walking 75 miles in 3 days time? (Guest Post)”

The Fruit of Family Dinners

Growing up in a family of six has provided me with some unique opportunities.  From family trips, sporting events, to simply watching movies, almost nothing ever felt mundane.  But if there was one event that transcended all others in it’s exclusive ability to form unique memories, it was around the family dinner table.  In today’s run and gun lifestyle, fewer families actually sit down together to enjoy a meal and if they do, many times it’s around the television (and yes I understand the addiction of shows like Breaking Bad).  Family dinners are an integral part of not just building strong bonds but developing each member as their own steadfast pillar.   Here are some epiphanies brought to you by your local kitchen table. Continue reading “The Fruit of Family Dinners”

What Growing My Hair Out Taught Me

rutger smith
Rutger Smith: World Class shotput and discus thrower

It didn’t take long for my Facebook feed and Instagram to blow up with comments of support and dismay when I cut my golden locks from my head.  Anybody who had come into contact with me between February 9th, 2013 and May 4th, 2014 knew I had a mission, a mission to grow my hair.  One day I look like Thor and in almost an instant I resemble Rutger Smith.   But to contradict common belief, it wasn’t for the looks; I began and ended the endeavor with the intentions of letting God teach me in a unique way.  Here’s what He taught me.

 

 

Encouragement is found in peculiar places. Yep encouragement can be found under locks of greasy hair.

People often talk of how growing hair out produces “awkward stages,” when hair begins to resemble the shag carpeting at their grandparents’  house more than an actual hairstyle.  It’s these dreaded stages which gives many people fear, deterring them from the growing process.

One of the reasons I started growing it out in the first place was to find complacency in my physical appearance and focus on other, more important aspects of life like school, sport, and my faith.  It was to my surprise that despite the awkward stages, I noticed my confidence was never hindered but rather grew with each new stage.  Each stage of the growing process brought about it’s own sense of achievement; simply knowing I had resisted to cut it increased my confidence further.

This exponentially increasing slope of my ego would eventually be the pitfall of the endeavor.

 

 

Patience.  Patience is hard, even waiting in line for a doughnut I get impatient.

My late brother Clint had always nagged me in the year of his passing to grow my hair out with him.  We’d consensually  agreed to grow out hair out together several times prior, but our attempts were usually thwarted by our girlfriends’ encouragement to do otherwise.  For my brother’s memory as my second means of motivation, growing my hair out would become a surmountable task.  But even with all of this positive reinforcement for reasoning, the temptation to cut my hair would continue to exist.

One could say resisting the temptation to cut my hair would build self control, true, but I beg to differ seeing as I still find myself wild at heart and frolicking with the devil’s devices from time to time. I digress.

Clint Erickson
My brother Clint

I miss my brother dearly but I’ve come to peace knowing he’s in a better place.  People often ask me if “I can’t wait to see him.”  My reply usually boarders around the lines of, “I would love to see him, but he finished his work here already, and I still have mine cut out for me.”  There’s no knowing of when our time will come, providing a sense of urgency to reach others with the Gospel. Reread that last sentence, I think that statement alone is a prof of how smart God is.

Growing my hair out took a little more than a year; I have no knowing of when I’m going to see my brother next.  So how could I expect be patient to see my brother again if I can’t even be patient enough to grow my own hair?  This is not just applicable to a lost brother.  There are other things we beg God to give us on our own desired timeline, things like the promotion at work, the house of our dreams, enough money for a new car, a family, a relationship, a chiseled body… sound familiar yet?  These things are not promised to us but we can be blessed with them or achieve them with time and the patients to develop them.

 

Good Intentions can’t prevent poor outcomes.  Cut plain and simple.

The reduction of my ego was a goal and the third reason for growing my hair out.  But as humans we’re very good at creating new idols for ourselves.  Just look at how quickly the Israelites replaced God with false idols, even after He had literally and physically set them free from their captives.  We are all slaves and captives to idols of our own making.  Sometimes without even realizing it we develop an idol to fill a void.  Only Christ can fill the void; any other attempt of satisfaction will prove itself futile.  This is exactly what happened in the process of growing my hair out.  As my hair continued to grow and increase in size, so did the attention I received and my ego.  I began to be known as the guy with long hair, goldy locks, or Thor. Subconsciously I began putting more emphasis on my identity because of my hair, and less on my identity as a Christ follower.

 

 

Giving up Idols… is easier said than done.

I fond myself in a conundrum.  What was once a small nobel endeavor had turned into a new self infatuation.  My good intentions had gone sour; I was starting to place my own hair above God.  How sad is that?!  If you ask me, it’s about as sad as the Chicago Bears trying to beat the Packers 😉  So what could I do?  I was given a little hint from this verse.

And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:30 

Besides, enveloping your identity in something as diminishable as hair is silly.  So give it up and let God take control.  I don’t want to be known as the guy with long hair, nor even as the track athlete, or even as a writer.  From my identity in looks to even unfruitful relationships, I’ve given up a variety of things which have replaced God as my idol.  The funny thing is as long as I live I’ll probably have to keep giving things up for the same reason.  I don’t want to be known as the guy with long hair; I’d rather be known as the guy who’ll follow The One who gave us His all, redeeming us of our sin and setting us free.

 

So tell me what do you feel convicted to give up? Feel free to comment below!

 

5 reasons why you should blog

 

1.  Develop your Resume

It doesn’t matter whether you’re in your fifties or your fifteen, it’s never too late or early to start adding to your prestige.  Fret not if you’re not the most verbose writer or the smoothest speaker; there are multitudes of blogging platforms.  I myself went the route of writing because like Moses, I’m a stuttering mess, but God has blessed me with a passion for writing.  A blog doesn’t have to be explicitly for business, rather I encourage people to blog on topics they’re passionate about.  If that happens to be your work/business, then go for it!  No matter what platform, the topic, or the purpose your blog serves, it will do this: let people (including employers) see that you have work ethic and drive to work on a project even if the end is an ambiguous concept.

2.  Give your perspective

One most frequent push backs I hear when I tell people they have a good blog topic, is that somebody else has already covered their topic.  The funny thing is it’s true, and here’s why,

“Today, more content is created in 48 hours than all of the content created between the beginning of time and 2003” – Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO

Continue reading “5 reasons why you should blog”

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