I recently had the opportunity to go to a devotional where Larry Gelwix was the main speaker. He was the coach of the Highland Rugby team that was featured in the movie “Forever Strong”. Coach Gelwix led the Highland rugby varsity team to an amazing record of 361 wins and 9 losses over 30 years. The movie “Forever Strong” has a powerful message of integrity, courage and the ability to change. If you haven’t seen it, do so. Coach Gelwix is known for his ability to inspire and direct, both on and off the field.
He was an inspiring and entertaining speaker, and the lessons I learned that night were both spoken and unspoken. Some were heard with my ears and others were heard with my heart. I have found those lessons heard by my heart are often the most powerful lessons that I have learned.
Larry Gelwix is known for his quotes, known by his team members as Gelwixisms:
Here are some lessons I learned from Larry Gelwix that may help you be “Forever Strong”:
1. Some of the most important lessons in life are taught repeatedly.
I cannot tell you how many lessons I have heard in church about tithing, or how many times I have felt the Lord teaching me patience. I cannot tell you how many more times I will be taught those lessons. But, there is purpose in repetition, whether in church or in life. Some of the most important lessons in life need to be learned and relearned. Humans have an innate tendency to get comfortable, to forget, and to float along, while putting forth as little effort as needed or necessary. The truth is, we sometimes need a kick in the pants. Those lessons are some of the lessons we need to hear, again and again. Maybe the reason we are hearing them again is that we haven’t learned everything we need to learn yet. We haven’t maxed out our capacity for growth.
So, when a lesson comes up that you think you have heard, instead of shutting down, listen up. You may just learn something.
2. To truly find success, we must have a laser-like focus.
Larry Gelwix shared that he saw a lot of good players. He coached a lot of good players. But, he noted that among those good players, he only saw a few great players. The difference? The difference was this:
The great ones have a laser-like focus on goals and nothing gets in their way.
This made me evaluate: where is my focus? It is a good question. It helps distinguish what is most important, what are my goals, where is my vision, and the direction it is taking me. Do I have laser-like focus? Do you?
3. You must choose your team.
You cannot wear both jerseys. A man cannot serve two masters. It is a lie to believe we can play for both teams. The world wants us to believe we can. We can have our cake and eat it too. We can serve God and mammon. We can divide our attention between teams. But the truth is, we must choose. One team. Which will it be?
As Joshua said, “…choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:2, 15).
Choose your jersey. Be proud of what it represents.
4. The Lord will teach us all things, but are we listening?
One of my favorite quotes of the night was this:
“The Holy Ghost will not compete for our attention.”
We have the opportunity in this life to learn many things. We can learn about art. We can learn about math. We can learn about human behavior, physics, complex systems and theology. We can learn from books, from google, from one another, but the greatest teacher we can ever seek is our Heavenly Father. Through Him, we can learn all things. And we can learn of Him through the promptings of the spirit.
In Jacob 4:13, we read: “… for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be; wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls.”
The world is busy keeping us distracted, dividing our attention, and helping us major in the business of ourselves. When we ignore the promptings offered us by the spirit, we are ignoring the goodness of God. The real question becomes, “Am I listening?” And then, “Will I act?”
5. Listening is not only a practice of the ears, but of the heart.
So, what if you say “I am listening, but I don’t hear anything.” Well, listening doesn’t just happen with our ears. Listening happens with our heart, with our feelings. Have you ever had a feeling come to you?
“Go visit your neighbor.”
“Call your mom.”
“Check on the baby.”
“Stop at your friend’s house on the way home from work.”
These aren’t just thoughts – you feel it. Those promptings are the promptings of the spirit of the Lord speaking to you through your heart. They may make seemingly miniscule changes in the workings of your day. Sometimes you may not even be aware of them. But, when we practice listening with our hearts, we will see the hand of God in our lives. It is there that you will hear the voice of the spirit.
The last Gelwixism of the day:
Let us choose to live our lives in such a way that we are not just entertained, but we are changed. We become His. We listen a little bit more, and recognize His hand in our lives.
So, my call to action: In what ways have you seen God’s hand in your life this week? How has He been there for you?
And, the more difficult question: Have you been listening?
I know that I left that evening with a stronger desire to be good. I left with a feeling to listen a little more, to be a little better. I have a lot of work to do, but I know: