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Lessons on the Court, pt. 1  //  What I learned at my grandson's Basketball Camp

Lessons on the Court, pt. 1

My fourteen year old grandson is pretty good in basketball. He and I play a lot together but he’s only beaten me once and I want to keep it that way. Being that I’m 45 years older than he is, time is on his side. To hold off the inevitable I’m eating healthier and started running in 5K’s. Recently, Jaiden was invited to attend a basketball camp in San Diego. I was afraid he’d learn some new skills and use them to defeat me, so I went with him! While at the basketball camp I learned some unexpected lessons that I found beneficial. You may find them useful, too.

The First Lesson is the most Important Lesson

When the basketball camp opened, the director took the first 30 minutes to explain an important lesson. As he looked at 150 of some very gifted high school basketball players, the majority who had swag, he said something very simple. What he said caught all of us off-guard. He prefaced lesson #1 with a few statements. The director started by saying, “I’m going to be honest with you. Your parents aren’t being honest with you and neither are your coaches or friends. I see players all across the country and even internationally, so I’m going to be truthful with you. I have nothing to lose. The very first lesson you need to learn is that, “You’re not as good as you think you are.”


The players reacted with shock, disbelief, even anger. How can you blame them? Who wants to be told that they’re not as good as they think they are? Not me! Perhaps, like me, you consider yourself a seasoned, experienced ministry leader and your ministry is seemingly healthy. Or, maybe you’re relatively new to ministry but you have great passion and fresh, new ideas that you know will create a healthy ministry.

I look pretty good compared to my students!

Perhaps you feel prepared to be the leader God has called you to be. You feel trained and well equipped. In fact, secretly or perhaps not so secretly, like those high school players- you have swag. You know you can get the job done. With your permission may I be honest with you? If you said “no,” you’d better stop reading. If you said “yes,” here’s the truth- You’re not as good as you think you are and neither am I.

As ministry leaders we can easily be deceived, especially in student ministry. Compared to most middle school students, we are the intellectual ones, the spiritual giants, in fact we are the bomb! Just because I can dominate my grandson on the basketball court, I’d be foolish to think I can do the same to every basketball player. You and I have to be careful who we compare ourselves to.

Who’s your standard, Jesus or students? There’s a big difference.

In my senior year of college we had a new basketball coach. I remember his first speech to our team. He said, “Anyone can be replaced.” It was a message to all of us players that we’d better work hard if we wanted to stay on the team.

The same is true of all of us in ministry, we all can be replaced. In fact, in time we will! And, the harsh reality is that it won’t take long for us to be forgotten. Before that happens here are 3 steps we should follow.

  1. Live humbly.
  2. Allow others to be in the spotlight.
  3. Give credit, and lots of it, to others on your team.

Following those three steps is what will make you the MVP of your team!

Jerry Higley
Executive Director at Lebanon Valley Youth For Christ
Jerry Higley is the Executive Director of Lebanon Valley Youth For Christ and an adjunct faculty member at LBC teaching Student Ministry courses at both the undergrad and graduate level. When he's not at work, he loves spending time outdoors hunting and fishing with his grandkids.